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TELEGRAPH SECEETS. 



BY A STATION MASTER. 



CONTENTS. 



CHAP. 

I.— CAUGHT AT LAST. 

II.— ODDS AGAINST THEM. 
III.— QUICKER THAN LIGHTNING. 
IV.— THE CLANDESTINE BEIDAL. 



CHAP. 

V.— WOBKING THE NEEDLE. 

VI.— EOBGING THE WILL. 

VII. — A MUEDEBEB AT LABQE. 

VIII. — A BUN ON THE BANK. 



IX.— A MfSTIC MESSAGE. 



SIXTH EDITION. 



LONDON : 
CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY. 

{The right 0/ translation is reserved.} 



TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 



INTKODCJCTION. 



TnE Author of the following Stories has been enabled, during 
a period of many years spent in the service of a widely- 
celebrated Telegraph Company, to collect a series of most 
romantic incidents, which are well worthy of perpetuation in 
print. For the facts themselves he makes no apology, but he 
trusts that the way in which he has wrapped them up in the 
form of narrative may be agreeable to that portion of the 
reading public who take an interest in those occurrences in 
real life which, by their very nature, are too strange not to 
be true. 



I.— CAUGHT AT LAST. 

Desmond De Vignb was a well-known man. If he was not well 
known to the public, he made up for that deficiency in popularity 
by being notorious in police circles. In Scotland Yard was he 
known. His fame had even penetrated from the Dan of the West 
to the Beersheba of the East; his name was cherished amongst 
the annals of the police-court in Leman Street, Whitechapel. 
Aliases he had many, but Desmond De Vigne was his most che- 
rished designation. There were people hardy enough to assert 
that his father had been honourably known as Jones in a small 
provincial town, had been christened Jones, and had been buried 
as Jones, with a tombstone and an epitaph as Jones; but thia 
i 



2 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

patronymic was not nearly aristocratic enough, for the unworthy 
son of a worthy father. He had introduced himself into polite 
circles as De Vere, and had been ignominiously expelled from a 
certain noble house as Norfolk Howard. For thirty years he had, 
in conventional phrase, "been about town," and during that quarter 
of a century he had victimized a few silly people who had more 
money than wit, and who fluttered moth-like around the flame of 
his consuming candle. Everyone who had the slightest acquaint- 
ance with Desmond De Vigne knew him to be a most finished 
blackguard and accomplished swindler, but so cleverly were his 
frauds upon society conducted that he invariably escaped punish- 
ment, if he were unable to escape detection and exposure. Let us 
sum up this man's character in a few words. He was thoroughly 
heartless ; he would betray the best friend he had in the world for 
the paltry sum of five shillings, or possibly less ; he was as subtle 
as a serpent; as treacherous as an Italian demoralized by the 
brutalizing reign of a bigoted Bourbon ; as smiling and as clever 
as anyone who ever wore a mask ; and was completely incapable of 
entertaining any real attachment to, or friendship for, anybody. 
Yet, paradoxical as it may seem, this man had a wife and a friend. 
The life of his wife, poor creature, was one perpetual martyrdom. 
Her history is to be summed up in a few words. She was the 
daughter of a gentleman whom Desmond De Vigne imagined to 
be possessed of great wealth. In the expectation of possessing 
some of her father's property, he laid siege to her heart, and car- 
ried the fragile citadel by storm. Prom the hour she became his 
wife she never knew what peace or happiness was. His friend 
was an Irishman of the name of Corny O'Byrne. This fellow was 
what the jackal is to the lion, — a toady, a follower in the wake of 
his principal's iniquity — an utterly despicable wretch, for whom 
hanging was too good, and penal servitude a mild invention of 
punitive genius. 

Desmond De Vigne had lived very nearly everywhere. He was 
continually shifting his quarters, and the Trade Protection So- 
cieties were indignant at the versatility of his talent, which pre- 
vented them from putting their subscribers on their guard. If he 
levanted from one place as Hargrave, he would turn up at another 
as Grosvenor ; and thus the little game, whose object was nothing 
more or less than plunder, went gaily on. 

A few years ago, this most delectable associate for a young man 
just starting in life was domiciled at the pretty little village of 
Willesden, where he had his horses, his dogs, his friend, and his 
wife. I put his wife at the end of the list, because he cared less 
for her than he did for anything, and she, to her sorrow, knew it. 

Myrtle House was a charming little retreat, standing back from 
the high road ; the grounds were prettily laid out and neatly kept, 
which was not so very surprising, as Desmond De Vigne retained 
a gardener at a large salary for the express purpose of laying out 



CAUGHT AT LAST. 8 

tho grounds with taste, and making them attractive to the eye of 
any visitor ho might feel inclined to invite from town. 

The saddest feature about Myrtle House was Mrs. Desmond 
De Vigne, who walked through the parterres full of flowers with 
all tho statuesque beauty of a Grecian damsel. Her face was 
generally expressionless, unless she thought of her father and her 
maiden home; then her cheeks flushed — those pale, marble-like 
cheeks — and her lustreless eyes became brimful of tears, which 
she was altogether unable to suppress. 

One evening in the golden month of June — that blissful, happy 
month of roses — 'her husband came from London in his mail 
phaeton accompanied by a stranger. Familiar as Agnes was with 
her husband's friends, she did not remember to have seen the 
features of this individual before. He was young, handsome, and 
had a pleasing address. Corny O'Byrne, as a matter of course, 
accompanied his principal and patron; whenever there was dirty 
work on hand, Corny O'Byrne was not far off. He was the filthy 
vulture who feasted upon the carcase after the monarch of the 
feast had satiated his monarchical hunger, which, as with all 
oligarchical institutions, was comprehensive. 

Sending the trap round to the stable, Desmond De Vigne 
ushered his young and aristocratic friend into his house. The 
strains of sweet music had been floating in the air before the 
vehicle arrived, but no sooner had the wheels of the phaeton 
grated upon the gravel than they were hushed as if by magic. 

Mrs. De Vigne was in the drawing-room. It was just seven 
o'clock. She was becomingly attired in a white muslin dress 
cinctured by a blue sash ; her hair was brushed smoothly over her 
forehead and collected in a knot behind — and oh ! what lovely 
hair it was ! a more love-inspiring auburn never was seen. The 
very simplicity of her attire made Agnes De Vigne more interest- 
ing than she would have been had she dressed herself more elabo- 
rately. A plaintive expression sat upon her features, which was 
inexpressibly attractive ; and numbers of men who would not have 
cared about being seen in Piccadilly with Desmond De Vigne, did 
not mind coming to Willesden to dine, for the sake of beholding 
his beauteous wife, who obtained the sobriquet of the " Weeping 
Darling." Everyone pitied her, for they saw that she had not one 
taste in common with her husband. They saw she was a victim, 
and they saw that Desmond De Vigne was slowly killing his lovely 
flower by the everlasting frosth?'' "^ of his manner. 

It was strange — very strange, io see how passively she obeyed 
him ; her mind seemed to be entirely subservient to his. No one 
ever heard a murmur escape her lips ; no one heard her sigh ; and 
yet no one ever passed five minutes in her society without dis* 
covering that she was intensely miserable. 

"Walking into the drawing-room with a jaunty air and inde- 
pendent carriage, Desmond De Vigne exclaimed, " My dear, allow 



4 TELEGRAPH SEC'KETS. 

me to introduce my friend, Mr. Harry Marchmont, who has kindly 
consented to honour us with his company until to-morrow." 

Mrs. De Vigne was sitting upon a sofa, and she bowed to Mr. 
Marchmont, extending her hand as he approached her. 

" I trust I am not intruding, Mrs. De Vigne?" he exclaimed. 

"Not at all," she replied; "any friend of my husband is always 
welcome." 

" Come, that's amiable !" said Corny O'Byrne, in his habitual 
coarse manner. 

Agnes De Yigne cast a scathing look upon him, which made hia 
eyes seek the carpet. He knew what her wrath was when she 
was aroused, and he dreaded the explosion. If she had a vial of 
anger to pour forth upon anyone, Corny O'Byrne was always the 
recipient of it. Sho had sworn to love, honour, and obey her 
husband, and if she found that it was not in her human nature 
to love and honour him, she still adhered to the letter of the law 
to the best of her ability, and obeyed him. Yes, she obeyed him, 
when she knew that she was doing wrong. She was particeps 
criminis with her husband in many a nefarious concern, and yet she 
went on blindly laying up for herself the detestable wages of sin. 

The stranger also cast a glance of scorn and despisal upon 
O'Byrne, for whom it was easy to see that he had no liking. 

" "We have dined, dear Agnes," said Desmond De Yigne, with 
a parental rather than a marital air, " so we shall not tax the 
resources of your cuisine to-night ; but there are, I believe, some 
shell-fish in the trap, about which we will thank you to give 
instructions to the cook." 

" I will see that it is attended to," she answered. 

" Before supper, we had better go on the lawn ; it is a lovely 
evening, and a cigar accompanied by some iced hock will be 
anything but disagreeable. What say you, Marchmont?" 

"By all means." 

" Let us go, then." 

" May we hope for the happiness of Mrs. De Vigne's society P" 

Instead of replying, Agnes looked timidly at her husband, as 
if desirous of taking her cue from him. He saved her the trouble 
of replying. 

" Oh, yes !" he exclaimed ; " there is nothing my wife likes 
better than a saunter on the lawn." 

"Are you not afraid of the dew, Mrs. De Vigne?" inquired 
Mr. Marchmont. 

"Not in the least," she replied. "I am a country girl, and 
used to such things." 

" Corny !" said De Vigne. 

" Eh ! did you speak to me P" replied O'Byrne. 

" Yes ; Just be good enough to go to the celler, and see about 
some wine. By the way, Marchmont, do you care about hock, or 
Would you prefer it adulterated with soda r" 



CAUGHT AX LAST. 

"Cm no, thanks," replied Marchmont; "anything you are in 
the habit of drinking will please me." 
"Have you no choice?" 
" None in the least." 

" Eh Men ! most accommodating of mortals ; hock let it be. Be 
particular about the ice, Corny. Wine, this weather, is unfit for 
drinking unless it is somewhat frigid." 

De Yigne led the way to the lawn through an open window. 
Marchmont, walking by the side of Agnes, followed. He addressed 
several remarks to her, but she answered him in monosyllables. 

De Yigne produced a case well filled with cigars; he handed 
it to Marchmont, who helped himself. In a short time Corny 
O'Byrne returned with a bottle of wine in each hand, followed by 
a servant, who carried a tray containing glasses and ice. Soon 
the little party became a merry one. Corny O'Byrne made his 
best jokes, which, although stereotyped and time-honoured, were, 
nevertheless, amusing to a neophyte like Harry Marchmont, who 
had only just commenced life. He was in the army, and a year 
before his father had been obliging enough to die — that was how 
De Yigne phrased it — and leave him a very large fortune, amount- 
ing to no less than seven thousand a-year. Desmond De Yigne 
told anecdotes as brilliant and sparkling as his wine, and Agnes 
alone was disconsolate and abstracted. 

Finding that his wife was little better than an animated statue, 
De Yigne took advantage of an opportunity, and drew her away 
from Corny O'Byrne and Marchmont, who were eagerly discussing 
the probabilities of a coming race. When they had reached a safe 
distance, from whence their conversation could not be overheard, 
they halted. 

"Agnes," exclaimed De Yigne, "why do you treat my friend so 
coldly? Do you not possess sufficient perception to know that 
I have brought him with a distinct purpose in view?" 

" I do know it." 

"Why?" 

"Because you are a bird of prey " 

"A what?" 

"And never do anything without an object," she continued, 
disregarding his interruption. 

" Yery well. Knowing that, do you not think that it is your 
bounden duty to assist me in every way in your power?" 

"Am I ever to be your slave?" she said, with a weary sigh. 

" My slave ! Well, if to be my wife is to live a life of slavery, I 
suppose I must reply in the affirmative," he answered, carelessly. 

"What do you want me to do ?" Agnes demanded, a little fiercely. 
It seemed that her lamb-like manner was leaving her by degrees. 

" I will tell you," said Desmond De Yigne, looking guardedly 
round him, to see that the coast was clear, and then concentrating 
his regards upon his beautiful wife. 



b TELEGRAM SECEETS. 

"I am listening." 

" I want you to be as fascinating to Marchmont as you possibly 
can." 

"Why?" 

"Because the fellow has money, and he is young. I have always 
found that young men part with their money more easily than old 
stagers. Marchmont is enormously rich, and you know how 
badly off we are for money." 

" That's true enough," she replied, with a sigh of resignation. 

" Is it wise," said Desmond De Vignc, " to neglect a magnificent 
chance like the one that presents itself, when all our bills here are 
falling due, and when it is absolutely essential to our preservation 
that we should have some funds with which to carry us on P" 

Agnes hid her face in her hands, and tears trickled through her 
fingers. 

"What now?" demanded her husband, harshly. 

"This dreadful life is killing me." 

"What dreadful life?" 

" That which we are leading." 

" Oh ! for my part, I see nothing dreadful about it," answered 
Desmond De Vigne. 

" Do we not live from hand to mouth ?" 

" Well, what then ? Thousands of others do the same thing." 

"Possibly, but in a more respectable manner." 

"My dear Agnes," said Desmond DeYigne, calmly, "how often 
am I to impress upon you that we are all creatures of circum- 
stances ? That I am what I am, is a mere accident of birth and 
nothing more. I might have been a highly respectable member 
of society, instead of a bird of prey, as some one — I think your- 
self — has generously called me." 

" That is sophistry." 

"Nevertheless, it is to the point. I want money; Marchmont 
has what I want. It must flow from his pocket into mine, and 
you must assist in the conversion." 

" In what way?" said Agnes De Vigne, in a stony voice. 

" We shall play at whist after supper ; you will be his partner." 

"But I play whist well." 

"You must play badly to-night ; of course, you must pretend 
to have some practical knowledge of the game. You may run 
Corny and I close, but you must allow us to win every rubber, as 
the stakes will be high." 

" It is nothing more or less than robbery." 

"Tactics, my dear," 

"I repeat, robbery." 

"Tactics, my dear," said Desmond De Vigne. "I shall roly 
upon you after supper." 

He walked back to the spot where 'Byrne and Marchmont 
were standing. 



CAUGHT AT LAST. / 

"Ah!" exclaimed Marchmont, gaily, "you are certainly a most 

eccentric host, and withal a cruel one. You not only leave me 

with this gentleman, but you deprive me of the delightful society 
01 your cirariiiiii^ wi<w 

Agnes blushed, but replied, "When my husband returns from 
town, he usually inflicts the petty details of his day's work upon 
me." 

"Are you, then, his privy counsellor?" 

Agnes shrugged her shoulders. 

" There should always be confidence between husband and wife," 
remarked Corny O'Byrne, sententiously. 

"Oh, quite so; I agree with you entirely there," cried March- 
mont, with the generous enthusiasm of youth. "It is very sad 
when a husband cannot trust his wife, or vice versa." 

"Suppose we adjourn to the house," said De Vigne. "The 
night air is becoming chilly, and Mrs. De Yigne is slightly sus- 
ceptible to cold." 

" Pray lead the way," replied Marchmont. 

When they reached the house, they found supper prepared for 
them. That post-prandial meal passed off agreeably, and cards 
followed as naturally as soda and brandy after a debauch. 

Mrs. De Yigne played her part in the organized conspiracy with 
evident reluctance ; but she played it successfully, and that was 
all her husband required of her. At the end of the game, March- 
mont was his debtor to the extent of several hundreds, and Agnes 
was Corny O'Byrne's debtor in a similar sum. 

Afterwards, Agnes De Yigne sat down at the piano, and sang 
a plaintive melody, which Harry Marchmont thought the most 
delicious morceau he ever listened to. 

"Your wife sings like a nightingale," he said to De Yigne. 

" She warbles a little," answered De Yigne, carelessly, as if his 
wife's talent was a matter of perfect indifference to him. 

The intercourse thus happily commenced between Marchmont 
and the De Yignes was fostered and encouraged by Desmond; he 
saw that the young man admired his wife, and he made her 
attract and play with him as a cat does with a mouse. 

One day De Yigne sought his wife, and said, " Agnes !" 

She turned her lustrous and expressive eyes full upon him 
interrogatively. 

" I am about to put myself in your power." 

" In mine ! Do you not know that you are already in my 
power?" she answered, musically. 

"Possibly; but we have hitherto rowed in the same boat. If I 
have been guilty of a misdemeanour or a crime, you have either 
passively or actively participated in it." 

"Well, well," she said, impatiently; "make me the recipient of 
your confidence. The time has not yet come for me to be your 
Delilah." 



° TELEGItAl'll SECKE1S. 

" Not yet come ! Could the time ever come ?" demanded Des- 
mond De Vigne, eyeing her suspiciously. 

" I am no prophet, therefore I shall not vaticinate resnectinp' 

"Your mood is singular to-day. But listen: I have forged 
Marchmont's name to a bill of exchange. This bill will be due in 
a few days, and all will be discovered. The sum is a large one, 
and I fear that Marchmont will be much exasperated." 

"What is the amount?" 

" Three thousand pounds." 

" Indeed ! and what do you expect me to do ?" 

" I wish you to talk to Marchmont ; blame me as much as you 
like, make me out a villain, but do it judiciously, and lead him to 
believe that I am seduced by evil example and bad companions ; in 
a word, make him think me more sinned against than sinning." 

Agnes bowed her head. 

" Do you understand me ?" 

"Perfectly." 

"And you will effect my preservation?" 

" I will endeavour to do so," she replied. " When will March- 
mont be here?" 

" I expect him to-morrow. I shall go to town to-day with Corny, 
and give him an invitation to dinner." 

Desmond De Vigne, satisfied with his interview, kissed his wife 
coldly on the forehead, and went away. There was nothing loving 
or affectionate in his icy manner; and as for Agnes, she was 
chiselled marble, and yet there was a fiery volcano in her heart, 
which raged furiously, although it did not burst into positive 
eruption. 

When he was gone, she threw herself with a weary sigh into a 
fauteuil, and exclaimed wearily — oh! so wearily — with a heavy 
sigh : " He orders me about like a slave or a dog. He has not a 
kind word for me. He appreciates me only for the use I am to 
him. Would that I were dead ! Will oblivion never come ? He 
knows I do not love him, and can he wonder at it ? ISf o. He has 
made me what I am ; he will make me what I shall be." 

That night Desmond De Vigne, though he knew it not, was 
rushing on his fate. He came home with Corny O'Byrne intoxi- 
cated. Although he was accustomed to copious libations, he seldom 
committed the folly of becoming tipsy. It so happened, that on 
this particular occasion he overstepped the limits of prudence, and 
reeled into the house a drunken man, supported by Corny, who 
was little better. 

Agnes shrank from him in abhorrence. If there is one thing 
which a modest and delicate woman detests more than another, it 
is a drunken man. 

" Come here, Aggy," exclaimed Desmond De Vigne, in a hoarse 
voice. 



CAUGHT AT LAST. 9 

*' No," she answered sharply. 

"]STo! but I say yes. I'm your master, and you must obey 
me. Come here, I say." 

" I tell you I will not," she replied boldly. 

Filled with vinous obstinacy, Desmond continued to insist 
upon her approaching him ; she as steadily resisted his imperative 
commands. 

" I shall leave you with your friend," she said. " To-morrow, 
when you have slept off the effect of your potations, I will talk 
to you, but not before." 

" Come here. I wish to look at your pretty face," shouted 
Desmond De Vigne. 

She stood erect, with flashing eyes. 

"Ah! stand still — that is a becoming attitude. I admire you 
when you are statuesque." 

He regarded her as he would have regarded Gibson's Yenus, 
or any other work of art. 

With a contemptuous glance she turned round, and was about 
to leave the room. 

" Stop her, Corny ! stop her ! " cried Desmond De Vigne. 

Corny ran to the door, and placed his back against it. 

" Allow me to pass, if you please," said Agnes, with flashing eyes. 

" Can't ; it's against the governor's orders," replied Corny, 
flourishing his hand menacingly. 

Turning to her husband, Agnes said, "Is it your wish that I 
should be subjected to such an outrage as this ?" 

"'Come here, Aggy," he answered, reverting to his original 
proposition; "I want you." 

She pressed her hand to her palpitating breast, as if to stay the 
violent beating of her heart. 

" You won't obey me !" continued Desmond De Vigne, stagger- 
ing to his feet, and advancing towards her; "then we must see 
what is to be done with you." 

It is an old saying, that when the gods wish to destroy anyone, 
they first of all drive them mad. Assuredly Desmond De Vigne 
was hovering on the confines of insanity when he did that which 
he ever afterwards repented. Advancing towards his wife, who 
did not flinch 'from his threatening demeanour, he raised his 
coward fist, and struck her heavily in the face. She reeled against 
the wall, stunned by the force of the blow. Corny, trembling 
with apprehension for the consequences of this rash act, sup- 
ported her in his arms. 

"There!" said De Vigne, with a wild laugh, "that will show 
that I am master, and that I will be obeyed by all who live 
under my roof." 

" Hush !" said Corny, holding up his hand, as if to deprecate 
any further conversation, or any remarks which might arouse 
Apnea's slumbering ire. 



10 TELEGRAPH SECRETS, 

"Open the door, and let her go to her apartments," continued 
Desmond, disregarding his friend's advice. " She shall not stay- 
here. " 

Corny opened the door, and gently pushed Agnes into the pas- 
sage, which was faintly lighted by an old-fashioned oil lamp. The 
door slammed behind her, and she heard her husband giving vent 
to curses and imprecations which would have disgraced a coster- 
monger or a coalheaver. She gasped for breath, and leant against 
a table which stood near the wall. 

" Oh ! this is too much, too much !" she mmimired. " I have 
borne with him too long. Wow that he has once so far forgotten 
himself as to strike m<3, my existence will be ten thousand times 
more miserable than it was before. I must go. This is no longer 
a homo for me." 

Taking a white cambric handkerchief from her pocket, she wiped 
her lips, which were copiously stained with blood, she then as- 
cended to her bedroom. She dressed herself, and placed a purse 
containing gold in her hand, and thus provided, stole softly from 
the house. The night was fine; the stars shone brilliantly, and 
she walked with ease to the nearest inn, where she experienced no 
difficulty in procuring a fly to take her to London. 

What was her motive in seeking the great metropolis? She 
scarcely knew. Her mind was in a state of chaos ; her chief object 
was to escape from the brutality and illtreatment of her callous 
husband, who, by his conduct that night, had completely alienated 
the last spark of affection which had, through much misery and 
wretchedness, lingered in her forlorn heart. 

She reached London, and dismissing the fly, walked along the 
streets until she came to a hotel, at which she obtained apart- 
ments. With her eyes red and swollen with weeping, she sank 
into an uneasy slumber. When morning came, she felt seriously 
unwell, and the people who attended upon her thought it their 
bounden duty to send for a doctor. The medical man arrived, and 
pronounced her to be in an incipient stage of a virulent fever. It 
was with the utmost chagrin that she heard the fact, but she was 
too weak and ill to say a word to any of those about her. In this 
condition she remained two days, after that she became delirious ; 
on the fourth day she raved incoherently; she repeatedly said, "I 
must save him! — save him! The forgery will be discovered; let 
me save him ! " These words had no particular significance to the 
people by whom she was surrounded, they supposed them to be 
the offspring of a diseased imagination. 

In the meantime, Desmond De Yigne was in despair j he would 
have given worlds to have discovered the whereabouts of his ill- 
used wife, and could the past have been recalled, what would he 
not have given to recall it ? He knew that she alone could save 
him, and she was nowhere to be found. He waited until the eve 
of the day upon which the bill would be presented, and a discovery 



CAUGHT AT LAST. 11 

of Ms crime inevitable, — waited feverishly, anxiously, hoping 
against hope, and trusting that she would at the last minute pre- 
sent herself. Finding that such was not the case, he prepared for 
flight, and took Corny into his confidence. 

"Look here, O'Byrne," he exclaimed, "my wife has left me. I 
do not know whether her desertion presages the beginning of the 
end, but this I know, I must fly from London for a time. I feel 
positive that Agnes could have done what she liked with March- 
mont, and he would cheerfully have made me a present of the 
three thousand pounds to which I helped myself. To-night I Btart 
for Scotland; will you accompany me?" 

" No," answered Corny, shortly. 

" You will not ! Do I rightly hear and understand you ? " said 
Desmond De Vigne, open-mouthed with astonishment. The de- 
fection of his coadjutor had never entered his head until that 
moment. 

"I can be of no use to you in your involuntary exile," said 
Corny, "and I have my own affairs in London to attend to." 

" Give me your companionship. I have money." 

" So have I, for the matter of that. ISTo, no ; I would rather not 
go with you. If you should get into trouble over this bill affair, 
I too might be compromised, which would be unfair, as I had 
nothing to do with it." 

" You participated in the profits." 

"Did IP Perhaps so. My memory is so bad that I cannot 
recollect whether I did or not ; however, I will take your word for 
it." 

Desmond De Vigne looked angrily at his once servile dependant, 
who now showed himself in his true colours, and appeared inclined 
to speak; but changing his mind, he turned upon his heel and 
disappeared. 

The next day the forgery was discovered, and Henry March- 
mont could scarcely believe that he had been so grossly imposed 
upon. Finding that no effort was made to conciliate him, and 
being enraged at the black and base ingratitude with which he was 
treated, he determined to prosecute the delinquent. When he 
came to this resolution, the plaintive face of Agnes De Vigne — 
sweet, lovely, long-suffering Agnes De Vigne — rose up before him 
and his wrath. Mollified by the beauteous vision, he drove down 
to Willesden, inclined to make a compromise; but he found the 
house shut up and the place deserted. 

"When this fact was patent, his rage obtained the mastery once 
more, and he resolved to issue a warrant immediately. On ar- 
riving at his house, he found Corny O'Byrne waiting for him,-and 
demanded his business. 

" I have reason to believe," said Corny, impudently, " that you 
have been badly treated by my acquaintance, Desmond De Vigne." 

" Infamously treated !" 



1'^i TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

"Do you wish to know where he is to be found?" 

" I do," replied Marchmont, " for I have made up my mind to 
punish him for his bad conduct." 

" That is nothing ; you don't know him as I do," said Corny, 
with a smile ; " but come, tell me what you will give me for my 
secret ? I will sell Desmond De Vigne to you for a certain sum." 

"Name it," 

" A hundred pounds !" 

"Oh, friendship!" said Marchmont, indignantly, "how art thou 
prostituted by such a fellow as this ! Why, my good man, you 
were De Vigne's inseparable companion, his bosom friend; you 
were with him night and day, and yet you talk of selling him ! 
Oh, monstrous !" 

"That does not matter to you," returned Corny; "you want the 
man, and you'll never find him without my aid. Is it a bargain, or 
is it notP" 

Marchmont sat down at the table, and wrote a cheque for a 
hundred pounds. "Take it," he said; "go to Scotland Yard and 
give information to the police ; it is well that you should finish 
your dirty work." 

Corny grinned, and with a bow departed. The police were 
informed that the delinquent had gone north, and they imme- 
diately proceeded on his track. The telegraph was put in opera- 
tion, and I transmitted the message which led to Desmond De 
Vigne's ultimate capture. It was this : — " Left London, Euston 
Square, by the 8,30 express, booked for Edinburgh, a tall, hand- 
some, dark man, hair on face, well dressed ; luggage, one portman- 
teau and carpet-bag, with initials D. De Y painted white ; expres- 
sion rather careworn ; has scar over right eyebrow ; great smoker. 
Wanted for forgery. Arrest and hold until Markham of the A 
reserve arrives with Detective Homersham." 

This telegram was sent to Carlisle, and when the train ran 
hissing and panting into the station, Desmond De Vigne stepped 
on the platform with his carpet-bag in his hand. The next minute 
handcuffs encircled his wrists, and he was a prisoner. When 
tried in London, he was found guilty, and received a sentence of 
twenty years' penal servitude, so that society was rid of a dangerous 
pest for a long peiiod. 

And what of his wife ? A merciful Providence saw fit to release 
her from the woes of her earthly pilgrimage ; she gradually sank 
and died, and her husband's disgraceful fate never reached her 
ears ; and now, instead of weeping as a daughter of earth, perhaps 
she hymns praises in angelic form, and is radiant in the glorious 
splendour of the eternal world. 



13 



II.— ODDS AGAINST THEM. 



A FiUfi old building was Bramly Hall, but one which could not 
claim for itself any distinctive features or peculiarities in a king- 
dom notoriously rich in noble edifices and ancestral domains. 
Tacked on to the mansion itself was a large estate, consisting of 
a couple of thousand acres of land, which once brought in to the 
owner of the property an income of over four thousand a-year. 
But Bramly Hall belonged to Edward Arden no longer ; it was in 
the hands of mortgagees, who were hungering after the recovery 
of their principal, and had given notice of foreclosure. He had 
long been in difficulties, and struggling in a sea of misfortune had 
embittered his soul ; the briny waves had entered at every poro, 
and Edward Arden, from being a fine, high-spirited gentleman, 
was a poor creature with a broken heart. The last ounce which 
was to break the camel's back was the sale of Bramly. Notice 
was given that the furniture and effects situate and being in 
Bramly would be sold on a certain day by a celebrated London 
auctioneer, with whose memory is associated all that is classic 
and ingenious in the way of redundant advertisements. 

Mr. Arden had two sons. The eldest, Stanley, was twenty 
years old; the other, Philip, a year younger than his brother. 
They were both Winchester boys, and had not left the halls of 
William of Wykeham very long. Their mother had been dead 
some years. They were both good-looking, manly fellows, these 
young Ardens, and you could see by looking at them that they 
came of a good old stock. 

Bramly Hall was situated about a mile from the high road 
which divided two counties in the heart of England, celebrated 
for their shady lanes and level country, the delight of lovers and 
the paradise of fox-hunters. This road was called the Watling- 
strcet Road, and on one side of it was the celebrated Boddington 
Wood, an infallible cover ; a fox could always be found there, if 
there was not another within ten miles ; but in the desperation 
caused by his pecuniary necessities, Mr. Arden had been obliged 
to sell the timber, which was soon to be cut down. This act of 
desecration and of vandalism raised an indignant outcry through 
the country ; but a man can do what he likes with his own. Mr. 
Arden reasoned in this way : if he followed his own inclination, 
not one bough should be lopped off, not a single twig broken; 
but he could not leave his boys penniless. He was assured by 
his man of business that the timber in Beddington Wood was 
worth a large sum ; from their antiquity, their trunks were of 
large girth. Then the stumps could be grubbed up, and the land 



14 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

prepared for farming purposes; the soil was virgin, and would 
produce fifty or a hundredfold. This would be a source of income 
of full three hundred a-year. 

Mr. Arden and his sons, driven from their home by the auc- 
tioneer, were staying at the Arden Arms, at Dunuton, a town 
three miles from Bramly — a smoky, dirty, out-of-the-way place, 
which the railway had done nothing for. Progress came, as it 
always does, in the wake of the iron horse, but not liking the look 
or the savour of Dunuton, it turned aside, and went further up 
the valley of the Trent. Stocking-making and ribbon-weaving 
were said to be the usual occupations of a people who by no 
stretch of the imagination could be called enterprising. The 
current of their lives was something like that of a sluggish mud- 
stream flowing through the town, which they dignified with the 
name of river; perhaps because it resembled the Thames near 
London in one respect— it was perpetually breeding malarias, 
emitting evil smells, and disseminating bad odours. 

The inhabitants of Dunuton had a sleepy look, such as over- 
much beef and beer would produce, for they were potent at potting. 
No great man had ever sprung from amongst them, nor could 
they boast of a single instance of anyone of their number, either 
past or present, having distinguished or raised himself to a posi- 
tion by his own exertions. It was the birthplace and residence 
of mediocrity. There was only one man amongst them who had 
his wits about him, and that was the attorney of the place. But 
Fewes was a villain, and robbed the poor ; so when he wrung any 
money from his victims, his speculations turned out ill, and it all 
withered away like the gold-pieces of the enchanter, which were 
metamorphosed into leaves, dry and crisp and useless. Pewes was 
sleek and fat and clean-shaven. He had made himself a church- 
warden, but he was not very successful in his new character; he 
was unable to summon up the look of long-suffering and mortifi- 
cation of the flesh which he tried to affect, and his mock sancti- 
moniousness was so great a failure that it exposed him to well- 
merited ridicule ; his voice was naturally sepulchral, and sounded 
like that of a sexton at the bottom of a grave speaking to his 
assistant grave-digger standing on the soil of the churchyard. 
The unimaginative Dunutonians always woke up when Pewes was 
mentioned. They all regarded him with unspeakable aversion, as 
an extortioner, an usurer, and a man who would not waste five 
minutes in friendly conversation with you unless he had his hand 
in your pocket. He was such an incarnation of legal iniquity, that 
once, -at a meeting of spiritualists, the tables would not move and 
the spirits refused to speak while he was present. This story 
circulated through the county amongst others to his discredit, 
and the common people who had before held him in aversion 
shrank from him now as from one who carried a pestilence about 
With him. 



CD33S AGAIKST THEM. 15 

Fewes was Mr. Arden's solicitor, and he strongly urged him to 
consent to the destruction of Beddington Wood. Perhaps he saw 
his way to some peculation. It is not to be supposed for a mo- 
ment that his advice was disinterested. A farmer had once sent 
him a small hamper of mangold-wurzels, asking him his opinion 
of them. Fewes kept the mangolds, and gave them to his cow, 
at the same time sending the farmer a letter requesting the re- 
mittance of six-and-eightpence, for advising as to the excellence 
and condition of certain esculents, to wit, mangold-wurzels, with 
three-and-sixpence incidental charges. 

The party at the Arden Arms was not a very cheerful one. 
Mr. Arden sat in an arm-chair, with his chin resting upon his 
hands. It was a lovely summer evening; the air penetrated 
through the open window rather less hot and sultry than it had 
been during the day. Stanley and Philip were playing back- 
gammon together; they took lfttle interest in the game, but it 
was necessary to do something. Stanley was smoking; Philip 
was averse to tobacco, and had never addicted himself to fashion- 
able vices. In person he was stout and thick-set, with a frank, 
open face, while his brother was tall and slender, with a feminine 
cast of countenance, which his hair parted nearly in the middle 
heightened considerably. At intervals he applied himself to a 
tankard of beer which stood by his side, showing that he was fond 
of malt liquor. 

The secret of their father's losses was well known to the boys. 
Henry Serpentine, a relation of their mother's, had inveigled him 
into speculations on the Stock Exchange, They were unsuccess- 
ful. As long as Mr. Arden had money, Serpentine clung to him; 
but when he was ruined he cast him off, and gathering together 
as much as he could from the wreck, left him in the lurch with 
heavy liabilities upon his already overburdened shoulders. No 
one knew exactly where Henry Serpentine had gone. It was his 
interest to conceal his destination, but rumour had it that Naples 
was the harbour of refuge where he intended to luxuriate upon 
(?hat ill-gotten gains he had been able to scrape together. Neither 
Stanley or Philip said much about it to one another, but both 
registered a vow that a day of reckoning should come for Henry 
Serpentine. 

Mr. Arden was a man upon the verge of seventy ; he had lived 
for thirty years at Bramly, and it was hard to be turned out of 
doors in his old age. He hardly knew whether he would have a 
roof to shelter him and his boys until his agents brought in their 
accounts. The estate had been in the family for many years, but 
he had gone abroad in the pursuit of fortune. At the bar he had 
obtained money and distinction ; he might have climbed to the 
topmost branches of the tree, had not his father's death called him 
back to England. 

The silence was gloomy and melancholy in that sitting-room at 



16 TELEGKAPH SECKETS. 

',he Arden Arms. How could it be otherwise? — Bramly was to 
,'}e sold the next day under peculiarly distressing circumstances, 
perhaps Stanley would say, "Tray-deuce — a good throw!" or 
Philip would exclaim, " Sixes — that's better; cinq-ace — just lands 
me, sir." 

A knock at the door roused them all — the old man from his 
meditations, the young ones from their game. Mr. Arden uttered 
a feeble " Come in." He had a faint suspicion that he knew who 
his visitor was, and he would rather have been without his com- 
pany just then. The low voice in which he spoke was apparently 
unheard outside, for the first knock was succeeded by another. 
The stentorian tones of Philip were put in requisition, and Fewes, 
the Dunuton attorney, entered. The boys gave him a sullen sort 
of nod, and continued playing. Mr. Arden held out his hand, 
which was silently pressed in the cold, damp, limp fist of the 
attorney. 

"Sit down, Mr. Fewes," said the old gentleman, "and be good 
enough to go through your business as briefly as you can. I am 
not very well to-night. Indeed, I would much rather postpone 
our conversation, if you can make it convenient do so." 

Mr. Fewes, with a smile at once sickly and cynical, replied that 
he regretted his inability to do so ; the matter pressed very much. 
It was about Beddington Wood that he wished to see him. If he 
would arrange finally about it, the affair could be settled out of 
hand, whilst Mr. Bobbins was in the country. He quite concurred 
with Mr. Arden in admitting that it was a pity to cut down so 
much fine timber, but he was going to leave the county, so what 
did it matter ? Those who hunted the Arrowstone hounds had 
not treated him with such marked kindness as to necessitate his 
throwing away a chance. "What good was the Wood to him in its 
present state? Simply none at all. Would Lord Furzon, the 
master of the hounds, rent it of him for four or five hundred 
a-ycar ? Certainly not ; he had been asked to do so, and he had 
refused. The Wood, as it stood, w 7 as not worth a penny-piece ; 
but cut it down, sell the timber, and plough it up, it would be a 
source of income in perpetuity. As for the fox-hunters, laugh at 
them, snap his fingers at them. Let the Arrowstone hounds meet 
as usual at the Bed Gate, and draw Bramly Wood or Bramly 
Gorse ; the cover for vulpine creatures was just as good. It was 
all nonsense for a man to be so blind to his own interests, and 
as Mr. Arden's legal adviser, he could not stand by and see it. 

,; Cut the Wood down, sir," concluded Mr. Fewes ; " no half 
measures. You have these young gentlemen to provide for ; they 
are young, and without professions; they want help and assist- 
ance." 

The attorney would not have given either of them sixpence to 
Bave them from starving in the street ; but he simulated an in- 
terest in these young gentlemen because it suited his purpose, 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. 17 

and was likely to prove a cogent argument with the old man. 
Mr. Fcwcs would have the management of the sale of the Wood; 
in fact, it would be plucking the last feathers from the back of 
the pigeon who was already nearly bare. 

Mr. Arden did not like to cut down Beddington; he knew what 
the people would say about him, and it was galling to him to think 
that things had come to such a pass, that he could not manage to 
exist without aiming a blow at every landowner near him who 
took an interest in fox-hunting. He had a perfect right to destroy 
and annihilate Beddington ; but he entertained gentlemanly and 
high-minded scruples about the matter, which, while they did 
him infinite credit, caused him the most profound embarrassment. 
Beranger says, that every man is his own devil, and that we are 
the architects of our own hells. Mr. Arden had so cleverly con- 
structed his place of torment, that he was tortured almost beyond 
the power of endurance. 

Stanley, although continuing to play backgammon, listened at- 
tentively to the dialogue between his father and the attorney. 
When he heard Mr. Fewes talk about providing for himself and 
his brother, he exclaimed, " There is not so much occasion for 
that, Mr. Fewes, as you seem to think. I dare say my brother 
and myself can manage for ourselves." 

" Confidence is peculiar to youth," observed Mr. Fewes, sen- 
tentiously; and without taking any further notice of Stanley, 
continued his remarks about the Wood. But Stanley was not in- 
clined to be choked off like a dog by a keeper ; he had obtained 
what he considered the right scent, and he clung to it with the 
tenacity of a thoroughbred. He was determined that Beddington. 
should not be sacrificed if he could help it. " If we are to leave 
the county," he thought, "let us do it with our hands as clean as 
possible; I should like our name. to be mentioned respectfully 
when we are far away. Perhaps we may go abroad, but you are* 
always meeting some one you know; it would not be nice to come 
in contact with a man from the same county, who, struck with 
your name, would say, ' That's the son of the man who cut down 
Beddington Wood.' Besides that, I have a liking for the Wood, 
I picked cowslips and primroses there when I was hardly as high 
as a retriever ; I have hunted there, and killed woodcocks there." 

He asked his brother to excuse him for a moment — he was 
obliged to interrupt the game, as he wished to speak to his father. 
Drawing his chair close to the fireplace, he assumed a business 
attitude, which he could do very well when he chose, and in * 
clear voice and forcible, well-selected language, exclaimed, " W* s 
cannot help selling Bramly, but if you think of cutting down thu 
Wood to get money for Phil and myself, I ask you not to do is. 
Fcr my part, I would not touch a halfpenny so obtained; I should 
look upon ii as if it had been obtained by some sacrilegious act 
almost as bad as robbing a church. Why, that Wood must have 



18 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

been in existence when William the Norman came over to Eng- 
land. I saw Furzon a few days ago, and he asked me to come and 
stay a few weeks at his place ; but 1 should not like to show my 
face anywhere if the Wood is to be cut down. It is such a con- 
fession of abject poverty. Just be guided by me lor once, will 
you ¥ If you had not listened to others so much, we should not 
have bsen in so painful and perplexing a position." 

Mr. Fewes saw that this address was taking the wished-for 
effect upon the old man, who was so tottery that he caught hold 
of the first set of leading-strings that was thrown out to him; so 
with a stern look fie said — " Is that remark intended to apply to 
me P because if it is, 1 should feel obliged by your confining your- 
self to the question at issue. Personal remarks are always to be 
deprecated." 

" If you tfiink so, you are at liberty to do so," replied Stanley 
Arden, with a perceptible sneer. 

The attorney, finding that the young man was not to be brow- 
beaten, changed his tactics, and observed, " There is an old saying 
in my part of the world, that beggars should not be choosers." 

" In this case," responded Stanley, while the hot blood rushed 
up to and flushed his cheeks, "they will be. And look here, Mr. 
Fewes, 1 only pardon the coarseness and vulgarity of that remark, 
because I know from whom it comes. But if you forget that you 
are talking to a gentleman, and one in misfortune, after this 
reminder of the fact, I shall see if I cannot teach you better 
manners." 

" Don't lose your temper, Stanley," said his father, with an im- 
pression that he was throwing oil upon the waters whose surface 
was troubled. 

"How can I help it?" replied Stanley; "I can't sit here and 

be insulted by But never mind," ho added, cooling down a 

little, " I will confine myself to the subject we were talking about. 
Promise me, and let Mr. Fewes thoroughly understand, that you 
will not sell Beddington. If you wish to get rid of it, I'll be bound 
we can dispose of it by private contract. If Furzon won't buy it„. 
I know some one who will," 

"The lad talks sensibly," said Mr. Arden, as if to himself 
"well, Stanley, you have my promise. So that matter drops 
Mr. Fewes." 

"In that case, sir," said Mr. Fewes, "I have nothing else to 
confer with you about. I shall have the pleasure of seeing you 
to-morrow, after the sale." 

Casting a scowling glance full of malignity upon Stanley, the 
attorney left the room, without making a parting obeisance, as 
was his usual habit. 

Stanley was doubly pleased ; he was glad that he had carried 
his point, and rejoiced at his victory over the attorney, who was a 
man towards whom he entertained the greatest possible aversion. 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. 19 

" These things worry me very much, Stanley," said the old man. 
"I wish it was all over, my boy; if it were not for your sakes, I 
should wish it over with myself too. I have lived too long ; I 
ought to have died ten years ago." 

"Those are things over which we have no control," replied 
Stanley. 

" Ah ! it's all very well for you to talk. I've lived too long, and 
I know it." 

Rising from his chair, Mr. Edward Arden took up a lighted 
candle. It was too much to expect that gas had as yet arrived 
at Dunuton, or was likely to for another hundred years to come. 
Saying good-night in a depressed tone of voice, he walked heavily 
from the room, and sought his bed — that refuge for the unhappy, 
where a brief surcease from sorrow is granted by a Beneficent 
Genius. The brothers remained together in earnest confabulation. 
Philip quite approved of the attitude Stanley had adopted on the 
question of the Wood. They both expressed their willingness to 
go forth barefoot and fight the battle of life, in which they did not 
doubt they would be successful. They indulged in golden visions, 
and fancied themselves at the head of any profession they might 
take a liking to. Oh, youth ! Why are we not always young? 

The reason that misfortunes are so crushing is, that they are 
generally so fond of one another as to pay you a visit in a solid, 
compact phalanx, the onslaught of which is altogether irresistible. 
They exemplify the fable of the bundle of sticks : singly they are 
contemptible, and easily conquered; but advancing arm-in-arm, 
like a squadron of horse, like a tidal wave, like a whirlwind or a 
fierce tornado, your poor house is soon shattered and levelled 
about your ears, and you find out when it is too late that you have 
been building on a sandy foundation, which was all very well until 
the winds blew and the floods came, but when they did, the result 
was desolation. 

On the day on which the sale was to take place, the road leading 
to Bramly Hall presented an animated appearance ; gigs, carts, 
carriages of all sorts and descriptions, rolled along the avenue and 
into the domain appertaining. The red deer pricked up their 
ears at what they thought an unjustifiable interference with their 
privileges ; they imagined that they had a prescriptive right to 
silence and solitude, which ought not to be rudely broken by 
plebeian vehicles or second-rate equipages. Stanley Arden and 
his brother Philip agreed to walk over from Dunuton. They 
wished to see the Hall once more; it possessed an irresistible 
fascination for them. Avoiding the main road, they took a by- 
path well known to them, which cut off at least a mile, and had 
the merit of being quiet and secluded as well as short. Mr. Arden. 
was not aware of their intention, or perhaps he would have dis- 
suaded them from it. He remained at the inn, making calcula- 
tions of what this ought to fetch, and what the actual niarksfc 



20 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

value of that was ; for the auctioneer had forwarded him a copy 
of the catalogue of what were lately his chattels and effects. It 
was glorious July weather, and the sun streamed in upon the old 
man, and threw a bright and pretty halo about his head ; but he 
did not look up, he was too intent on his work, thinking how 
much there would be for the boys when all was over. There was 
a billiard-table, which he had given Thurston a hundred and 
twenty guineas for; he put that down at half-price; it was almost 
as good as new, and upwards of a score of cues went with it. He 
thought the bidders would not depreciate it below half its cost 
price. He knew very little about the vicissitudes of property and 
the chances of sales ; that billiard-table brought twelve guineas — 
the slabs of slate were worth double the money. There was a 
statue of a faun playing a tambourine with one of its fore feet, 
beautifully executed by Thorwaldsen, which cost seventy pounds ; 
it sold for ten. Mr. Arden imagined that a large surplus would 
be handed over to him by the generous auctioneer ; but then — 
poor, simple-minded gentleman ! — he was not aware of the prac- 
tice by which an organized band of bidders get everything at 
their own prices. 

The young men were angry and annoyed as they approached 
Bramly; it hurt their pride to think that people of whom they 
knew nothing, and who were nobodies, should run riot all over 
the place, and be allowed to bid for articles of furniture which 
were endeared to their original possessors by long years of plea- 
sant associations. They were rudely jostled as they walked up 
the stone steps and stood under the portico. A crowd of rough- 
looking fellows, who were probably agents for men who had 
money, and who were always on the look-out to pick up anything 
that might be cheap or a bargain, were standing on the lawn, 
laughing, talking, and swearing, treading over the beds and 
trampling the flowers under foot. Here lay a standard rose-tree, 
broken from its stem and trodden remorselessly under foot ; a little 
further off was a bower of white French roses covered with sweet- 
pea bushes in bloom, fragrant and pleasant to look upon : some 
men were amusing themselves by plucking the flowers and throw- 
them at one another. This afforded them intense enjoyment, if 
one may judge from the boisterous merriment it created, and to 
which they gave vent with many a hoarse guffaw. The front door 
was wide open, and the morning-room, in which the sale was to 
begin, was crowded by those anxious to bid. Stanley recognized 
a few faces, but he avoided them ; it was a moment of supreme 
misery to him, and he wished he had not been so rash as to seek 
it. The work of spoliation was inevitable; why, then, was he 
there ? To prevent? — that he was powerless to do. To resist? — 
certainly he was passively aiding and abetting the spoilers in a 
negative manner, and sanctioning the unholy work by his pre- 
sence. Accompanied by his brother, Stanley retreated, leaving 



ODDS AGAINST Til EH. 21 

the Hall and its busy occupants. To him the Hall was like a 
carcase, and the men attracted there were nothing better than 
vultures and foul birds of prey. 

They walked down towards the fish-ponds, moody and medi- 
tative. Suddenly Stanley exclaimed — " Come to the stables ; the 
horses are not sold yet, they are kept to the last, I think." 

The hint was sufficient for Philip ; he cordially acquiesced in 
his brother's proposition, and hastily retracing their steps, they 
entered the courtyard in which the long range of stables was 
situated. There were some grooms hanging about, who touched 
their caps respectfully at seeing the young Ardens. One of them 
exclaimed to Stanley, "Come to say good-bye to the mare, sir?" 
Stanley nodded his head, and walked into the stable, followed by 
the groom. A handsome black mare in the first loose box pricked 
up her ears when her master entered. She had been Stanley's 
favourite, and he rode her on all occasions when speed and en- 
durance were necessary. One night, Philip was taken suddenly 
ill, and it was obvious to everyone that a doctor should be imme- 
diately sent for. Stanley was so much attached to his brother, 
that he would allow no one but himself to be the messenger to 
fetch the medical aid that was required. He went down to the 
stable himself, put the trappings on the mare, and rode her across 
country by the light of the moon, reaching Dunuton in a little 
over a quarter of an hour. 

Stanley turned to the groom, and said, "Saddle the mare, 
Griffin." 

The man hesitated. 

" Well, what's the matter with you? Can't you do as I told 
you ?" cried Stanley, impetuously. 

" There is the sale, sir, and " 

" Never mind that, lay the blame on me. Bring the saddle, I'll 
put the bridle on." 

Griffin went away grumbling; he thought the horse would not 
sell so well after a "pipe-opener" as she would in her present 
state ; but his late master seemed to have set his heart upon a 
ride, and he knew him well enough to understand that he would 
not allow himself to be thwarted. Stanley soon had the bridle 
between the mare's teeth ; he threw the curb on the ground, say- 
ing, " I'll ride her without, to-day." Griffin led her out of the 
stable, and as he did so the clatter of hoofs was heard on the other 
side. Philip, divining his brother's intention, had caparisoned 
his favourite horse, Wildfire, and was already mounted. With a 
clean spring Stanley sprang into the saddle, and walked up the 
yard. The stablemen looked on half-deprecatingly, half-applaud- 
ingly ; they knew not whether they were doing right or wrong in 
permitting the egression of the cattle at such a time ; but Stanley 
had been so long their master, that they were accustomed to obey 
each and every of his instructions. 



22 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

As the brothers, with exultant looks, were emerging from the 
yard, amidst the looks and remarks of the curious, Griffin ran 
after them. " Beg your pardon, Mr. Stanley," he said, " but the 
Arrowstone meet at the Gate to-day." 

Stanley took out his watch. "Half-past eleven," he said; " what 
do they draw?" 

" Draw the Wood, sir." 

Stanley gave the man half-a-sovereign, and after speaking to 
Philip, urged on his horse, and cantered down the avenue in the 
direction of the main road. They had hardly reached the bottom 
of the park before an unusual commotion fell upon their ears. 
Looking up, Stanley perceived the red body of a fox stealing along 
in the direction of Bramly Gorse. It was clear that the dogs had 
had an early find, and were now in persuit of Eeynard. The 
brothers drew back under the shelter of some trees, so as not to 
interfere with or head the fox. The animal seemed unconscious 
or oblivious of their presence, and maintained his way with steady 
and unswerving celerity. Presently the dogs appeared in view, 
with their tails erect and their heads bent down upon the trail. 
Several horsemen followed, but as they had encountered some stiff 
fences on their way, their number was not so great as it otherwise 
would have been. Stanley waited until all but the outsiders had 
passed, and then he joined in the chase, Philip keeping up with 
him. The faces of the young men began to glow with the exercise 
and excitement. Lord Furzon was passed by them, and he waved 
his hand in a kindly manner. Stanley returned the salutation, 
but the pace they were going at was too great to permit of conver- 
sation. A formidable hedge lay before them, and some of the more 
prudent riders galloped down to the gate, which was held open for 
them by an obliging rustic. Stanley had gone over the fence 
before, and he did not hesitate now. Encouraging his horse by 
his voice, he gave him his head, and after being poised an instant 
in the air, he had the satisfaction of seeing himself safely landed 
on the other side. He went on a few paces, so as to be out of the 
way of anyone else who might have chosen the same part of the 
hedge, and then turned round to look after Philip. While resting 
with his hand on the crupper, the mare gave a shiver, as if 
startled by something. Stanley looked around, and his eyes 
lighted upon an old woman who had been seated on the bank. 
She held a quantity of wild flowers in her hand, among which the 
deep-coloured and graceful bluebell was conspicuous. She was 
attired like a gipsy. She had risen from her position, and ap- 
proached Stanley, as if with the intention of speaking to him. 
Had it not been for his anxiety to know where Philip was, he 
would have ridden on, for he was falling lamentably into the 
ruck. As it happened, Philip had gone round by the gate, as 
he thought the hedge rather more than the horse he rode could 
manage. 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. 23 

" I know you, Stanley Arden !" cried the woman, in a cracked, 
shrill voice; "I know you, though you may not know me." 

As he gazed at her, he remembered having seen her before ; she 
was known amongst the people on the estate as Barbara. No one 
knew much about her; she was always on the tramp, and, it was 
said, received a few shillings a week from Mr. Fewes, the attorney 
of Dunuton. Whether he gave it her out of his own pocket, or 
whether he was commissioned by one of his clients to do so, was 
a fair subject for rumour, gossip, or speculation. Of course Bar- 
bara was supposed to possess the attributes of a witch, more or 
less ; but as she was very harmless and gentle in her manner, she 
often received a kind word when others of her class would have 
been repulsed with an oath and a threat. Perhaps one circum- 
stance which conduced to this toleration more than anything else 
was, that she was scrupulously honest, she had never been known 
to maraud or thieve ever since she made her appearance in Bramly 
more than twenty years ago. 

When she spoke to him, Stanley was not in the mood for idle 
chatter with a trespassing vagrant; and desparing of seeing his 
brother, who he supposed must have crossed somewhere else, and 
was by this time in the adjoining field with the hounds, he was 
about to give the mare the rein, when Barbara, with a more agile 
spring than the casual observer would have thought she was 
capable of, seized the bridle and exclaimed, " We two must talk 
before we part. You are turned out to-day, Stanley Arden, root 
and branch, but the root will soon wither, and nothing but the 
branches will remain. Bramly's gone from you, and passed into 
the hands of strangers." 

"Not for ever, mother, I hope," cried Stanley, good-naturedly, 
although he was inwardly chafing with impatience. "Come," he 
added, "let go the horse; I shall be left behind else." 

" Not till we've done talking," she returned decisively. 

"Don't be foolish" exclaimed Stanley; "leave the horse alone, 
or I'll ride over you." 

She refused, and grinned at him with all the hideousness of in- 
sane obstinacy. Leaning over his horse's neck, he caught her arm, 
and compelled her by main force to leave go her hold upon the 
bridle. He sent her back with a jerk which sent her tottering into 
the hedge. Instantly collecting herself, and before he could get 
withov/t the diapason of her voice, she cried in harsher accents 
than usual, " A bad day's work for you, Stanley Arden ! I put a 
curse upon you ! Do you hear me ? — a curse ! mark me well — a 
withering, scathing curse !" 

Striking his horse with his open palm upon the neck — for he 
had no riding-whip — he urged him to his full speed ; but he went 
away from the spot with the weird malediction of the old woman 
ringing unpleasantly in his ears. When he had half traversed the 
meadow he looked back, and saw her standing in the place where 



24 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

he had left her, with her form erect and rigid, her arm extended, 
and her lips parted, as if she were repeating the words, " I put a 
curse upon you, Stanley Arden!" 

Laughing at his superstitious feeling, which had at first mada 
him regret his violence to the old hag, he pressed on, and overtook 
his brother, who was waiting at the nearest gate for him. In spite 
of himself, Stanley felt oppressed; he could not shake off the idea 
that something was about to happen, the consequences of which 
anticipated event would prove unpleasant and disastrous to him- 
self and his brother. In vain he assured himself that he was a fool 
— that he had served the meddlesome old woman just as she de- 
served ; he could not shake off the incubus which he thought sat 
upon him through the wild incantations of Barbara. He begged 
his brother not to ride any further that day, but to return at once 
lo Dunuton. He proposed to send the horses back to the stables 
)fc Bramly by the ostler of the Arden Arms, for he did not feel 
inclined to visit the old familiar places any more that day. 

Filled with anything but re-assuring reflections, and yet not 
liking to communicate his forebodings to Philip, he rode at a 
sharp trot to Dunuton. Upon entering the inn-yard, Stanley 
was surprised to see a group of servants standing in a porch talk- 
ing earnestly together, as if some unusual occurrence had taken 
place. When they noticed him they instantly oeased speaking — 
why, he was at a loss to conjecture. Dismounting and throwing 
the reins to the ostler, he told him what to do with the horses, 
and entered the inn, closely followed by Philip. On the staircase 
he met a waiter. "Where is my father?" he asked. 

The man looked terrified, and stammered and hesitated as if he 
did not like to answer him. Pushing him rudely on one side, Stan- 
ley ran upstairs and looked in their sitting-room ; Mr. Arden was 
not there. If he were in the. house, the only place in which he 
was likely to be found was his bedroom. With a palpitating heart 
Stanley walked hastily along the corridor, until he arrived at the 
door of his father's bedroom. He fancied he heard voices inside; 
it was no time to stand upon ceremony, Stanley felt positive that 
something had happened to his father during his absence ; so with- 
out the faintest preliminary knock, he pushed the door open and 
went in. A small, thin, dark-haired man, whom he knew at once 
to be Mr. Mason, the best doctor Dunuton could -boast of, was 
standing by the bedside. Their eyes met, and the doctor placed 
his fingers against his lips to enjoin silence. Mr. Mason ap- 
proached Stanley on tiptoe, and drawing him into a corner, whis- 
pered hurriedly in his ear. The substance of what he said was 
6 imply this : — Mr. Arden had received a messenger in the early part 
of the afternoon, who had been sent by the auctioneer to tell him 
how the things were selling. Everything was going at such ab- 
surdly low prices, that the old gentleman put himself in a great 
passion, which resulted in an apoplectic fit. He had fallen heavily 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. "" 

upon the floor; the noise of his body falling had brought up tho 
waiter; Mr. Arden had been «™»i in aa insensible state into his 
ivJiuuiu, ana Vr. Mason was sent for. When Stanley arrived ho 
had been in the room about an hour. The usual remedies had 
been resorted to, but with slight success : the patient was in a pre- 
carious state. 

Stanley walked up to the bed, and drew aside the curtains. The 
old man was lying upon his back, but he opened his eyes and 
seemed to know his son. Philip hesitated upon the threshold for 
a short time, but when he understood the state of affairs, he joined 
his brother. The brothers could tell at a glance that the hours 
their father had to live were numbered. They could have wished 
it otherwise, but the ways of Providence are inscrutable, and it 
was not for them to kick against the pricks ; yet a slight murmur 
trembled on their lips, as they felt the full force of the decree 
which had gone forth against one dear to them, and more dear 
now in the days of adversity than when the clouds had not 
gathered and the storm was afar off. It was strange how jealous 
these boys were of their father's reputation, the fame that he had 
won abroad, and the name which he had made for himself in tho 
county where he was born, and where it pleased the weird sisters 
that he should die. The destruction of Beddington Wood was an 
event that Stanley deprecated, because it would bring his father 
into bad odour amongst their friends ; and he was glad that such 
a course had been avoided by the decided tone ho had himself 
adopted the night before. 

Mr. Arden, though veryweak, and scarcely possessing sufficient 
strength to speak, made an effort to do so. He told his sons that 
he knew he was dying, and he hoped there was no profanity or 
anything irreligious in his saying that he was not sorry his hour 
had come. He had a request to make before he quitted this 
world for ever — the last he should ever make to them, and he 
trusted they had sufficient regard for him to promise what he 
wished. One of the bitterest pangs that, amidst all his troubles, 
he had battled against, was the reflection that Bramly would pass 
out of the family. He had hoped to have kept it intact, and have 
transmitted it to Stanley as his father had transmitted it to him. 
It was to be purchased by a rich man whom nobody knew, but he 
had offered a price for it which the mortgagees thought sufficient, 
and which they had decided on accepting. Mr. Arden solemnly 
exhorted his sons to live for one object alone, — to centre all their 
ambition, all their energy, and all their steadfastness of moral 
purpose, in the one sole grand and noble endeavour, the nature of 
which he was about to communicate to them. They listened at- 
tentively, wondering much what their father's command would be. 
The sun was setting, and its last pale rays danced fantastically 
about the room, as Mr. Arden raised himself on his elbow, and 
gazing first ?* one and then at the other, with a strange light in 



26 



TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 



Lis unnaturally lustrous eyes, exclaimed in tremulous accents— 
" Buy back Bramly !" 

He had exerted himself so much in the endeavour to utter to is 
parting command, that his failing strength was exhausted, and he 
fell back on the pillows and gasped for breath. He continued to 
talk at intervals, in jerky, disconnected sentences, telling them to 
make money, to undergo privations, and keep the one idea steadily 
in mind ; to pull together, and allow no silly rivalry to separate ; 
to amalgamate their resources, but, above all, to "buy back 
Bramly." Then he asked them to promise him most sacredly 
that they would do so. He held out his trembling hand, and they 
placed theirs within it; and then, in the light of the setting sun, 
in the solitude of the sick chamber, in all the solemnities that 
such a scene is likely to inspire in the minds of the young and 
susceptible, the brothers, to the evident delight of their dying 
father, vowed by all they held dear that their main object in life 
should be, to buy back Bramly. 

Mr. Arden smiled with ineffable sweetness, as if he was about 
to carry the vow with him and register it in a better world ; and 
his spirit passed from him, so silently, so quietly, so gently, that 
those who were standing by were unaware of his death till some 
minutes afterwards. They were unusually surprised by the legacy 
he had left them ; and, sanguine though they were, the brothers 
could not help thinking, that in the fight they had undertaken to 
wage for a specefic object, it was " odds against them." 

#Ji. JA. Mt 4P- «lfe 

9P W w w ^F 

To leave the place where you were born, and where you have 
passed the best part of your existence, is an arduous under- 
taking. If you look upon the occurrence in the most prosaic 
light, you will see that such a parting has its pangs. Suppose 
you have been a clerk in the City, and some influential friend has 
made interest for you at the antipodes — obtained employment for 
you at Shanghai, say, in some famous silk house. In spite of 
your five hundred a-year to start with, and various small privi- 
leges, you cannot help a feeling of regret which defies repression. 
During the long voyage, which cigars and chess will not make 
less tedious, you sigh for the shady precincts of the Exchange, 
with its strange and garish frescoes, its advertisements, and its 
Old World beadle, who will shut the door in your face about half- 
past three, which, if you happen to be in a stockbroker's office in 
Lombard Street, and are sent to get the latest prices, is a great 
nuisance, necessitating a circuit which makes you longer than you 
otherwise would be. In Shanghai, the cool retreats of Gresham 
House are no longer yours, and Capel Court is little better than a 
myth. In a foreign country you may find many things which are 
both pleasant and new ; but what can compensate for the steak 
from the gridiron, or the chop which hisses and smokes upon yonr 
plate? What is an equivalent for those charming resorts in whk.ii 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. 27 

the juvenile mind so much delights, those haunts, those scenes, 
those places, which from association are so dear to you? Nothing 
but long continuance and new ties can lessen the bitterness of 
exile. 

To the Ardens, absence from Bramly — dear old Bramly ! — was 
especially distressing. They were born in the old house which 
they had quitted for ever ; they knew every nook and cranny on 
the estate ; there was not a hedge which produced better black- 
berries than others with which they were unacquainted; they 
could find the best dog-roses and the finest wild-hazels, and they 
had traversed every inch of stubble and woodland in search of 
game. Stanley Arden felt, as he quitted Dunuton, as if he had 
been robbed of his birthright. The new proprietor of Bramly was 
a man who had no friends or connections in the county, but he 
was a wealthy man. Although Stanley had never seen him, he 
positively hated him. He did not as yet understand the ups and 
downs of life, and he could make no allowance for a man who was 
successful where his father had failed. 

After the funeral obsequies of Mr. Arden, the brothers went to 
London. They had very little money at their command, barely a 
thousand pounds between them, but that was more than sufficient 
for their pressing necessities, and they were content with the 
remnant which had been saved from the wreck of a splendid pro- 
perty. Of course they took lodgings, for staying at an hotel would 
soon have ruined them. They were much attached to one another, 
and in the mind of each their father's command to buy back 
Bramly was ever uppermost. A letter arrived one day when 
they were at breakfast; it was directed to Stanley, and he opened 
it. After reading its contents his face flushed with a gratified 
expression, and he handed it to his brother. It was from Lord 
Furzon, who said : — " I take the earliest opportunity of writing to 
you, although you would have heard from me sooner had the 
people at the Arden Arms been acquainted with your address, 
which I discovered by accidentally meeting Fewes. The members 
of the Arrowstone Hunt met the other day, when the matter of 
Beddington was taken into consideration. Mr. Arden's behaviour 
was so much approved of, and we all thought he had behaved so 
magnificently, that we decided unanimously to rent the Wood from 
you. Perhaps that will be more to your advantage than selling it, 
for, in spite of the advocates of the Corn Laws, landed property is 
annually increasing in value, and at some future time you might 
sell Beddington to some Conservative foxhunter for a large sum of 
money. If, my dear Arden, you will consent to our proposition, 
we shall be glad to give you three hundred a-year for the use of 
Beddington, and I assure you we are conferring no favour upon 
you in so doing ; "we consider that we are very much benefited by 
the acquisition, for there is no question that the Wood is the best 
cover in the two counties. We are all sincerely sorry that you 



28 TELEGRAPH SECEETS. 

■are not amongst ns, but we shall look forward to your return at, 
no distant time. Will you allow me to say, that I shall alwaya 
feel the strongest gratification at seeing you at my house ; pray 
tell your brother the same thing. With the kindest regards for 

your welfare, and the best wishes for your success in life " 

Here he concluded. 

" That is very kind of Furzon," exclaimed Philip. 

"Yes, just what I should have expected from him," replied 
Stanley. " But here is another letter, which I did not notice at 
first; it is half-hidden under my plate. By Jove!" he added, 
breaking the seal and unfolding it, " it's from Stanbridge I" 

" Do you mean Stanbridge, captain of our Eleven when we went 
down to Eton to play the fellows there the first year after the 
Lord's matches were stopped?" 

"Yes, you know him well enough." 

" Of course I do ; what does he say ?" 

" I'll tell you : he puts it in a very gentlemanly way, but he says 
he has heard of our leaving Bramly, and he wants to know if a 
private secretaryship would be of any use to me, because if it will 
he can give me one. He says he has just been returned for Stock- 
leigh, and he would very much like to have an old friend about 
him. What do you say? — shall I accept it?" 

"I should think so, my dear fellow," replied Philip; "it will 
make your fortune." 

Stanley, whose knowledge of the world was greater — a little 
greater — than that of his enthusiastic brother, smiled. He thought 
that to be the private secretary of one who was likely to be a rising 
parliamentary man, was a step on the ladder of Fortune ; but he 
had a slight intuitive inkling of the trouble, the worry, the annoy- 
ance, the perseverance, and the fortitude that it is necessary for 
those who wait upon the fickle goddess to undergo and possess. 
Philip shook his brother by the hand in a kindly manner, telling 
him that he congratulated him upon his good-luck with all his 
heart : and he meant what he said ; he liked his brother, and he 
made no secret of his predilection. 

After breakfast the brothers separated ; Stanley to go to his old 
acquaintance, Henry Stanbridge, the open-hearted, good-natured, 
high-principled member for Stockleigh, whose father had been 
extensively engaged in commercial pursuits. This is the language 
of the biographers — the plain English of the phrase being, that he 
was a large cotton merchant at Stockleigh. His father had re- 
cently died, and he had come into a very fine business, which 
many scions of noble houses would have given up their hereditary 
rank to possess ; rank, in this country, without wealth being little 
worth, and more productive of embarrassment to the owner than 
anything else. A clerkship in a Government office is like a posi- 
tion in the area of a workhouse ; you are not absolutely within the 
charitable precincts, but at any rate you are not far off, and be*. 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. 29 

yond, those offsprings of Nepotism, the destitute aristocracy, are 
not accustomed to view much. 

Philip was one of those quiet, reserved, uncommunicative, im- 
penetrable people, who always walk about as if they had a secret of 
vital importance concealed somewhere about them. There is a sort 
of arcanum magnum gleam in their eyes ; the Philosopher's Stone 
lurks in every word they utter, and perpetual motion may by care 
and diligence be discerned in their waistcoat-pockets. As yet he 
was uncontaminated by the world, he was good-hearted,— embar- 
rassing phrase, indicative of so much, and yet practically explana- 
tory of nothing. What is a good-hearted man ? One who loves 
his mother and subscribes to a charity, who does not object to put 
his legs under the Freemasons' mahogany, or to see his name in 
leaded type as a donor of money to the Honourable Society of 
Pulmonary Pilgrims ; but who regrets with tears in his eyes, after 
the lachrymose, crocodile fashion, that he can only lend you five 
shillings when you have asked for five pounds, who wrings your 
hand with severity, and offers you half of his hymn-book in church. 

Philip was not merely indulging in a purposeless walk for the 
benefit of his health ; on the contrary, he had an object in going at 
a quick pace in the direction of the City when he left his brother. 
He might have had a cab if he had wished it, for he had the 
money in his pocket, or he might have patronized a metropolitan 
stage carriage, had he been so minded ; but he was a frugal and 
a saving man, he never forgot that there are twelve pence in a 
shilling, twenty shillings in a pound, and that four farthings make 
one copper coin. He believed in infinitesimal beginnings ; and as 
he had some time to spare and wanted a walk, he thought he 
would take a main thoroughfare and inquire his way to the City. 

The avenues leading to the City present a curious spectacle in the 
day-time ; you see the roadway choked up with vehicles of every 
description, amongst which the ponderous omnibus towers like a 
giraffe amongst zebras. Take Fleet Street, and select Bride Court 
as a coigne of vantage. The police will not interfere with, you, 
because yon can pretend to be looking at the caricatures in the 
window of the office of " Punch." See what a hurrying, worrying, 
struggling throng goes past, diving into this alley and burrowing 
into that court. These little veins are by no means so insignifi- 
cant as they look — they minister to the main body. In one is 
situated the famous printing house from whence so many interest- 
ing sheets are issued, and not far off is the den in which the 
pretty painted covers which embellish the railway novels are 
made. 

Philip was going to call upon a man who had been a friend of 
his father's. He was a stockbroker, and Mr. Arden had done a 
great deal of business with him. His idea was, that he would most 
probably assist him in some way, for Philip believed in trade and 
business of some sort ; although he was well-born, he had no silly 



30 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

prido in hi3 composition, such as blocks up the channels of success, 
and prevents your energies from expanding. Mr. Hawksenden 
was a broker in a very good way of business ; he had numerous 
clients, and he knew as well as possible how to turn the nimble 
ninepence. He would study the political horizon, and if he saw 
lowering clouds gathering in the distance, he would give for the 
" put" of Consols, and just catch his quarter per cent, for he never 
turned up his nose at five or ten pounds, and always had a bad 
opinion of a man who went in for large profits. Mr. Hawksenden 
lived in Throgmorton Street, on the first-floor of a house apon 
whose lintel many names were painted. Philip ascended the dark 
stairs, every step of which was covered with sheet-lead, as oil-cloth 
would have been very much like a cart-load of corn in Egypt 
during the year of famine, that is to say, it would not have gone 
far. Upon the landing Philip hesitated, to reconnoitre and to 
collect his thoughts. It was a way of his ; he did not exactly make 
up what he was going to say, but he arranged his trains of thought, 
and prepared himself for probable contingencies. There were two 
doors ; one had written upon its glass upper part, " Mr. Hawksen- 
den;" the other was simply inscribed with the word, "Private." 
The first door further informed you that inside was the office of a 
stock and share broker. Philip had never seen Mr. Hawksenden 
at his office ; but he had once run down to Bramly for a few days' 
shooting, on which occasion his bag, after severe toil in going over 
the stubble, consisted of six partridges and one leveret, the latter 
killed by the gamekeeper as the poor creature was limping off with 
a broken leg. He wondered whether he would remember him ; he 
was inclined to think he would. He opened the door with timidity, 
and entered. That part of the room near the fireplace, which was 
filled with shavings, was open, and furnished with chairs — re- 
pulsive-looking chairs, whose cane bottoms seemed to warn you 
against trespassing under heavy penalties, amongst which a severe 
attack of cramp was one of the most endurable. A large desk 
divided the front part near the window. At each side of this were 
two stools, occupied respectively by four clerks. One of them was 
a young man of feminine appearance, very dark, with his hair 
parted in the middle, and well-dressed, but with certain pecu- 
liarities about his attire which, had you seen him at the West End, 
would have told you he was an importation from that region where 
ftold and precious stones may be found, where hard work such as 
would achieve the labours of Hercules, is to be heard of, but where 
the amenities of polite circles are not cultivated to any great extent. 
He turned his large, full eyes upon Philip, and inquired in a languid 
tone of voice, which had nothing masculine in its silvery diapason, 
what he wanted. Philip replied by asking for Mr. Hawksenden. 
Another clerk, with the officiousness peculiar to the race, stuck his 
Ungual pitchfork into the dialogue, and exclaimed, " 'a engaged • 
wont blong;" and then he threw his eyes upon the ledger, and 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. 31 

went on casting up accounts, in a way which would soon have 
calculated the amount of bullion in the vaults of the Bank of 
England, or the number of days in the life of that octo-centenarian, 
Methuselah, — but the latter is an abstruse mathematical problem, 
which, in common fairness to the limited intellects of the younger 
members of the untitled aristocracy who vegetate in commercial 
persuits, should be left to the calculating machine. 

" Take a chair," said the feminine clerk. 

Philip obeyed this command, and waited patiently until Mr. 
Hawksenden made his appearance, which he did shortly. A short, 
thick-set man was walking by his side ; he shook hands with the 
broker, and said, "You won't forget; sell the Maritana Centrals, 
and buy me fifty Metropolitan Cabs and Carriages. If you can 
get some Utilization of Sewage and General Manures, I don't 
mind having them, but they must be below par. Good morning. 
I shall look in. You can send the contracts to my house. Good 
morning." 

"Now, sir, what is it?" exclaimed Mr. Hawksenden, as the glass 
door slammed behind the outgoing client. 

The broker was a middle-sized, dark man, clever, quick, and in- 
dustrious ; he had some stock phrases, amongst which these were 
prominent: — "What can I do for you this morning?" " Quite so, 
clearly," "Of course," which he pronounced " Of curse." He talked 
in a rapid manner, and was impatient of long conversations. 

" Don't you remember me ?" asked Philip. 

"Can't say I do; memory's not bad, either." 

" You knew Mr. Arden, of Bramly ?" 

" Of course — quite so, clearly," replied Mr. Hawksenden. 

" I am his youngest son," said Philip, looking, up as if the an- 
nouncement was a recommendation and a passport to universal 
favour; just as being seen at Lady Jersey's, some years ago, was 
an introduction to the best society in London. 

"Oh, indeed!" replied the broker; "glad to see you. Ccme 
inside." 

Philip followed him into a small room, upon a table in which 
were lying the best daily papers. When they were both seated, 
Mr. Hawksenden said, " Now, what can I do for you ? Want to 
dabble a little in stocks ? Dangerous game, without you've good 
information; and then I've seen people lose, lose thousands, on 
the very best information. Your poor father — saw it in the papers 
— was a great man, and Mr. Serpentine — both of them great men 
for speculating ; but it requires a head as long as from here to the 
top of the pen in the hand of St. Peter over the cathedral at Eome 
to make money here. So, if you will allow me to say so, I should 
advise you to give up the idea if you are left well cff. Keep what 
you have, sir, and don't try to get rich in a hurry." 

Philip felt embarrassed at this speech, but he felt that he had a 
task to go through, and he girded himself up for the trhl. Ho 



32 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

wanted to work for his living, and lie was not going to be dis- 
mayed because he had a slight disinclination to ask for the labour 
which he hoped would some day produce him the amount requisite 
for the repurchase of Bramly. 

" The fact is, Mr. Hawksenden," said Philip, " my father has left 
my brother and myself little or nothing, and we are obliged to do 
something for ourselves. Stanley, I am happy to say, has had a 
secretaryship offered him this morning, and consequently he is 
provided for, and I " 

" Let us be brief," exclaimed Mr. Hawksenden, interrupting 
him ; " excuse me, you know, but I suppose you fancy you have 
a claim upon me through my being your father's broker, and you 
want to become a City man?" 

There was an absence of delicacy and refinement about this 
speech, but then it was practical, and there is a great deal in that. 
A blow on the head is an exhibition of physical strength, but it is 
none the worse for being delivered through the medium of a 
boxing-glove. Philip blushed, and looking up, encountered the 
sharp, twinkling, restless grey eye of the broker fixed upon him. 
He was awaiting his reply to the home question he had put to 
him, and it was an easy one to reply to, yet Philip hesitated. Per- 
haps he had feelings susceptible of a wound ; but what right has a 
man in search of employment to have such ghiish feelings ? Let 
him take his snubbings bravely, and make the best of them, be- 
cause he is sure to meet with them, and no amount of kicking will 
improve the condition of one who has nothing but pricks to kick 
against. He did not think that he had a claim upon Mr. Hawk- 
senden, but he imagined that he would be likely to help him, 
because he had known his father and stayed at his house, been on 
terms of intimacy with him, and done his Stock Exchange busi- 
ness for him during many years. Certainly, you have a right to 
expect more from a friend than from a stranger. It is very much 
like the theory some people have about relations, — they say that 
one relation is not justified in expecting any assistance from 
another ; but this is simply absurd, If you cannot look for sym- 
pathy and help in the time of need from a relation, the hour of 
misfortune becomes very black indeed; for when your own kith 
and kin turn their backs upon you, your prospect of finding aid 
outside the domestic circle is very remote, so much so as to lie 
upon the shores of the antipodes of Hope. 

Philip did not exactly fire up and assert his independence by 
putting on his hat and walking out of the place; he was much too 
cautious and prudent a man to do anything of the sort. He re- 
plied with just that amount of dignity which he thought would 
be the salvation of his self-respect, " I don't think I have any 
claim upon you, but knowing as I do that you were acquainted 
with my father, I thought I would offer you my services ; of course 
you can take them for what they are worth. I have had no ex- 



ODDS AGAINST liliiisl. 33 

perience of the Stock Exchange, but I daresay I could learn in a 
short time. Everything must have a beginning, you know, Mr. 
Hawksenden." 

"I should be excessively glad to servo you," said the broker, 
" but I don't see how I can do it. I have four clerks in the office 
now, and my business does not require another. If you could wait 
a little while, something might turn up, or I could speak to some 
of my friends." 

"If you would, I should be much obliged." 

This was all Philip could say ; he was profoundly disappointed, 
and every lineament of his expressive face showed it. Mr. Hawk- 
senden did not seem to understand that his juvenile visitor could 
feel acute mortification. " He is only a boy," he thought, " and he 
will try somebody else. If I see Reynolds, the great share-dealer, 
I'll speak about him, but I've no room for him myself. There's 
that cousin of mine coming next week, and my wife will be angry 
to a degree if I prefer some one with whom she is not acquainted 
to one of her relations." The idea of offending his wife was very 
dreadful to Mr. Hawksenden. In common with most Englishmen, 
he preserved an amount of reverence and veneration for the part- 
ner of his existence, which, if not servile, was certainly uxorious. 
So he dashed Philip's hopes, and dismissed a promising young 
man who would have been a credit to him, because he was afraid 
of his wife. What a comment on matrimony ! The broker held 
out his hand for Philip to grasp, as a signal that he wished the 
interview to be at an end. It is generally observable that people 
who think they have got rid of an importunate visitor wish him 
good-bye with a sort of kingly grace, which is as common to the 
prime minister who dismisses the hungry place-hunter with a 
smile upon his Janus's lips, as it is of our friend Grain, of Mark 
Lane, who bows a dismissal to a loquacious traveller with whom 
he does not wish to do business. They are always civil to you 
when you are going. The sigh of relief rises up in their breasts, 
and they ring the bell for the next applicant to be admitted. They 
are not to be blamed, for public men and men of business, during 
their working hours, are very much like badgers being drawn and 
baited by ferocious dogs, who sometimes will not take "No" for 
an answer. Had Philip understood the value of this grand pre- 
cept, " Never take ' No' for an answer," he might have been more 
successful than he was ; the broker might have unbended so far 
as to patronize him and ask him to come home to dinner with 
him • he would have introduced him as " Youngest son of my old 
friend Arden — heard me talk of him, my dear — Indian judge and 
laro-e landed proprietor; did business for him for many years. 
Gone now, poor fellow ! Well, we can't last for ever, and a black 
hatband is a necessary article occasionally.'' 

Philip, unfortunately, was not pertinacious enough; he had 
some of the nature of the leech in him, but he was too modest, 
2 



3i TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

too young, and too inexperienced to apply it as it requires to be 
applied. He put on his hat with a lugubrious air, which spoke of 
vexation of spirit as clearly as did the face of Ahab when coveting 
the vineyard of Naboth, before Jezebel gave him the pernicious 
advice which caused him to despoil his subject of his property. 
The broker shook hands with him, and accompanied him to the 
door ; but just as' he was about to make his exit in a state of pros- 
tration, a man entered, upon whom his eyes were instantly fixed. 
He was tall and of a commanding figure, well-made, and extremely 
gentlemanly in appearance. He was dressed in an unexceptional 
manner, and wore an eye-glass, which dangled from his neck, 
round which it was suspended by a thin piece of elastic. It was 
not a heavy affair of gold and gems, but simply a piece of glass 
fixed in an ebony frame, small, elegant, and genteel. He placed 
his glass in his eye and looked at Philip, elevating his aristocratic 
brows in some surprise. Philip recoiled in either alarm or dis- 
gust, it was difficult to say which ; an expression of hatred per- 
vaded his features, and putting his hands in his pockets, he was 
about to leave the office, when the new-comer clapped him on the 
shoulder, exclaiming, " Is your father here?" 

"My father is dead," replied Philip, regarding him scathingly. 

" Dead ! that is sudden ; I was not prepared for that. And what 
are you doing in the City?" 

" You had better ask your friend Mr. Hawksenden ; he can tell 
you," answered Philip, doggedly. "One thing you can guess, and 
that is, I did not come into the City to find you ; had I expected 
to meet you, I should have gone out of town to avoid the possi- 
bility." 

"Mr. Arden has taken a fancy for a City life, and wanted to 
know if I had any room for him in the office. I told him I had 
not; couldn't turn one of my fellows out — of course not." 

"Do what he asks," replied the stranger, with a look of peculiar 
(significance, which was evidently intended as a command. 

" Come inside ; we will talk it over," ejaculated the broker, 
appearing much put out. 

"I will call again in a day or two," said Philip; "in the mean- 
time you may come to some arrangement; only pray do not be 
influenced against your will by this gentleman." 

Without paying the man for whom he had so palpable a dislike 
the slightest attention, he nodded to Mr. Hawksenden and went 
away. He was the prey of violent emotion. The man whom he 
had just encountered was Henry Serpentine, his father's ally and 
adviser, the one who had ruined him, and brought about the 
calamitous events which unquestionably caused the old man's 
death. Philip looked upon him as a deadly enemy, and hated him 
from the bottom of his heart. He had no idea that he was in 
England, he had been told that he was abroad ; so that his meet- 
ing with him in the City was totally unlooked for and unexpected. 



ODBSi AG AIM ST TIIE1I. 3f> 

He thought that Mr. Serpentine had lured his father on to bis 
destruction and benefited by his fall. Far too clever a man to risk 
his own property upon a single throw, he had speculated with the 
money belonging to another ; and when that other was poverty- 
stricken and broken-spirited, he tied up his purse-strings and left 
him in the dilemma, out of which he might scramble as best he 
could. Philip resented an injury to his father more than he would 
have done one to himself; and it was with a shudder and an in- 
ward feeling of creeping horror that he passed from the presence 
of this man and emerged into the street, where he could breathe 
uncontaminated air. 

It will have been remarked that Philip Arden was of a pushing 
disposition; he was not easily discouraged, and he possessed per- 
severance in a marked degree. Perhaps it was constitutional ; it 
is with some men. They like to get up at six in the morning, and 
begin money-grubbing as early as they can. They are fond of 
being on their legs all day, and when they have been working for 
hours incessantly, they go to a vestry meeting, or the House of 
Commons, or to a debating society, and make a vigorous speech 
upon a subject which, from its recondite nature, would have puzzled 
most men. If they are not Demosthenic, if elocution is lost upon 
them, and eloquence is not their strong point, they go to some 
remote place, and turn to Confucius for a little light reading, 
or find relaxation in the Homeric account of the battle of the 
frogs, laughing heartily at the various phases of the contest. 
Philip had light grey eyes, and men who possess them are gene- 
rally restless and worrying; with grey eyes, with light hair, a 
penetrating glance, a slightly insipid manner, but ardent and 
enterprizing when you know them. They constitute a class which 
may be called the hardworkers, the busy bees of the social hive, 
those before whom the drones vanish and disappear, sinking into 
insignificance like so much useless lumber. Those are the men 
who will not take "No" for an answer, who smile when you dis- 
appoint their expectations, and who take up their hats in a placid 
manner when you dash their hopes to the ground by an emphatic 
refusal of their request ; who blandly tell you they will do them- 
selves the pleasure of calling upon you in a day or two, and keep 
their words most remorselessly; who will not go away when 
they are told you are busy, and who will wait for you if you 
happen to be out. They lay little traps for you, and catch hold 
of your button-hole in obscure passages, and hang on to you with 
the clinging pertinacity of a leech, until you do what they ask 
you to, because, like the unjust judge, you are actually badgered 
into it. 

Philip had an opinion that a bow with only one string was not 
a very useful weapon to go into battle with. Suppose the one 
cord were to break, you would in that case be defenceless and at 
the mercy of your enemies. He had not gone to Mr, Hawksenden 



30 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

because lie had a particular fancy for Stock Exchange bnsinoas, 
but because men made money at it. There was a man his father 
used often to speak of, the celebrated B. B., ho bad commenced 
life in a broker's office at a salary of a pound a week ; he scraped 
and saved, and never wasted a farthing, until he collected a little 
money together. In the evening he used to copy papers and deeds 
for a law stationer, so that he became in time a small capitalist ; 
then he listened here, and picked up a little information there, and 
read all the papers and studied politics, until he made up his mind 
that something was going to happen, which would throw Capel 
Court into a state of perturbation. He put his money into Con- 
sols, and backed them to go down within a month; his time- 
bargain was successful. War was declared, and the funds fell 
nearly eight per cent. This gave him something to start with ; 
luck was in his favour, and he in the course of time made a large 
fortune. Philip wanted to emulate so glorious an example, but he 
was not at all averse to turning his industry into another channel. 
What he wished for was something to get a living by, something 
through which to make money and buy back Bramly. 

An old friend of the late Mr. Arden occupied a position of con- 
siderable trust and importance in the India House; he was one of 
the members of the Council, and had been acquainted with him in 
Calcutta; but instead of vegetating on his return to the country 
in which he was born, he turned his attention to practical pursuits, 
from which he derived fame and position. Sir Stephen Cairfull 
was one of the remarkable men of his day, and fully deserved the 
eulogiums which were heaped upon him. Being in the neighbour- 
hood, Philip thought he would call upon Sir Stephen, and ask his 
assistance in some way. He asked his way to the India House in 
Leadenhall Street, and was not long in finding that excrescence 
of bricks and mortar, which has happily been pulled down since 
then ; he walked up the broad flight of steps, passing a dusky-hued 
Mahometan, who was shining in all the splendour of cashmere 
robes and a dazzling turban. The messenger inside conducted 
him along a passage with a stone floor, and handed him over to 
another attendant. This one gave him a little more exercise of a 
perambulatory nature, and delivered him into the custody of a 
third satellite, who led him to a small door, at which he knocked ; 
he was told to come in, and shortly afterwards Philip was ad- 
mitted. He found the great man to whose care, amongst that of 
others, the destinies of millions of the human race were in a cer- 
tain way committed. Sir Stephen was rather below the average 
height, and possessed a countenance the expression of which was 
forbidding, although intellectual. He received Philip kindly, 
listened to his story, and told him, that if he wished it he could 
give him a clerkship in the India House : " But you must bear in 
mind," he said, " that it will only be worth ninety pounds a-year 
to you. You will have to vrork tolerably hard, and I will under- 



ODDS AGAINST TIIEK. 37 

take to say you will find your employment irksome. If you can 
do anything else, by all means try it. If you fail, and you wish to 
fall back upon Government service as a last resort, come to me 
again, and you shall have what is in my power to give you." 

Philip pulled rather a long face at this, but his common sensa 
told him that what Sir Stephen said was perfectly true, so he gave 
up all idea of the India House and its clerkships, and walked 
gloomily along the damp corridors, which, in their hideous angu- 
larity, were redolent with red-tapeism. He stood on the steps of 
the India House for a brief space, wondering what he should do 
next. His meditations were interrupted by a cheery voice, which 
exclaimed in his ear, " Arden, old fellow, how are youP" 

He turned round hastily, and recognized a young man who had 
been in the same form with him at Winchester. There is a sort 
of freemasonry amongst public-school men, and so Philip ran his 
arm through that of his friend, and they were soon walking along 
the street chatting gaily. 

"What were you doing at the India House, Forrester?" asked 
Philip, looking up interrogatively in his friend's face. 

" I took a letter for one of the bigwigs there. You know I am 
in my father's office now — rather a let down, I suppose you think, 
from being a prefect at Winchester and second captain of foot- 
ball ; but I wasn't born with a silver spoon in my mouth, though 
I believe you were." 

" If I was," replied Philip, " the silver has turned to lead in a 
marvellously skilful way. But tell me all about yourself, will you ?" 

"I haven't much to tell. We are in the tea trade, and do a 
little in silk occasionally, when the markets offer us the produce on 
advantageous terms. And now what were you mooning about 
the City for?" 

" Because I was looking for something to do." 

" Nonsense ! what has happened ? Nothing serious, I hope." 

"I can tell you in half-a-dozen words," replied Philip: "my 
father's dead, and he has left my brother and myself in such a 
position that we must do something." 

" By Jove !" said Forrester ; " you surprise me. I thought you 
were a languid swell, doing the Park on horseback, and driving 
about in mail phaetons, and lounging in opera boxes; I even 
associated you with tawny whiskers." 

"That was rather a stretch of the imagination," answered 
Philip, with a laugh. 

"Will you come to the office ?" said Forrester; "it is not far 
off— just a little way up Fenchurch Street. I suppose you would 
not care about anything commercial, because Forrester and Son 
are in want of a clever fellow to manage a certain part of their 
business, which requires fidelity and skill. I suppose, though, 
offering yon anything is like a mouse talking to a lion ?" 

"Not at all," answered Philip, promptly. "Will you come to 



38 TELEGRAPH SECKETS. 

my lodgings after business and dine with me P we can then talk 
at our easo. I know you are busy now." And so it was settled. 

Serpentine's interest in Philip Arden was simulated for a pur- 
pose. He had robbed Mr. Arden of almost all he possessed, and 
at one time, by a deed of gift, obtained an estate worth seventy 
thousand pounds. With the money he had so infamously pos- 
sessed himself of, he was enabled to live like a prince wherever he 
went. It is said, and well said, that with the acquisition of money 
comes an increased greed of gain. The more Henry Serpentine 
had, the more he wanted. He was insatiable. He heard that the 
young Ardens had a few paternal acres left them, and, incredible 
as it may seem, he coveted them ; he could not rest until he had 
the title-deed of the Beddington Wood Estate in his custody. In 
order to acquire this property, he was civil and obliging to Philip 
Arden, though it caused him great pain to be so. Having wronged 
their father, he had a most unnatural and unreasonable hatred for 
the family ; he detested them root and branch. The root was gone, 
but the branches were living; they were mute protests against 
his usurpations. If he disgorged what was really theirs, they 
would not have been compelled to work for the living of which 
he had deprived them. He obtained the address of the young 
men from Mr. Hawksenden, and unexpectedly paid them a visit 
one evening. Both Philip and Stanley were indignant at his 
presence, and treated him coldly. 

" Forgive me," he said, " for intruding unbidden upon your pri- 
vacy. I have your wellfare at heart, and I wish to do all that lays 
in my power for you." 

" Pray pardon me for doubting your professions of disinterested- 
ness, Mr. Serpentine," exclaimed Stanley; "when we remember 
how you conducted and benefited by the spoliation of my father's 
estate, we are sceptical." 

" You wrong me, you do indeed, my dear boy. I came here this 
evening to suggest a means of obtaining money. You have the 
Beddington Wood, I believe — is it not so?" 

" It is ours." 

"That is what I wanted to know. I was with a parliamentary 
agent to-day, and he informed me that a railroad will cut through 
the_ estate. I don't know whether there is anything in the title-deeds 
which will entitle you to larger compensation than is usually given, 
but I will consult a solicitor, if you will kindly favour me with the 
parchments." 

Stanley was completely thrown off his guard by the plausible 
way in which Serpentine stated his case, and going to a bureau, 
he took out the deeds, and foolishly handed them to his father's 
destroyer, who placed them in his pocket, and checking a sardonic 
smile, said, " Thanks, dear boy ; you shall have them back in a day 
or two, and I trust I shall have some good news to communicate 
to you." 



ODDS AGAINST THEM. 89 

After a lifcttle farther conversation Serpentine took his leave, 
promising Philip an engagement in Mr. Hawksenden's office within 
a week. 

Days passed by, and the young men heard nothing of Mr Ser- 
pentine ; he had, it was supposed, gone abroad. Stanley's agent in 
the country told him that he had received notice that Beddington 
Wood had changed hands, and that he was in future to account + o 
Mr. Serpentine. Frantic with rage, Stanley consulted a solicitor, 
who told him he was afraid he could do nothing in the matter 
unless a Chancery suit was instituted, and that was expensive. 
There was another difficulty in the way ; Mr. Serpentine was resi- 
dent abroad, his favourite abiding-place was Naples. He would 
telegraph to a friend there, and ask for any particulare respecting 
Serpentine; and he did so. I was the manipulator who sent the 
queries flying through sea and air : — 

" Englishman of the name of Serpentine ; resident in Naples, 
and very rich. What do you know of him ? Is he now in Naples ?" 

That was the telegram. 

Answer : — " Serpentine is now in England. I am his adviser 
here. Has gone over about some property, a wood in a midland 
county. Reputation bad here ; not in good society, and generally 
disliked. Plenty of money. Expected back in a day or two." 

Stanley returned home disconsolate ; he did not know what action 
to take in the matter, but he began to see that he had been most 
cruelly robbed by a plausible and most unscrupulous scoundrel. 

That evening Philip had an invitation to dine with his City friend 
Forrester, at a West-end club, and he had been asked to take his 
brother. They went together. In the midst of dinner, Stanley 
suddenly sprang to his feet, and rushing towards a gentleman, 
grasped him by the collar. It was Serpentine, who had paid a flying 
visit to his club. 

"Scoundrel!" cried Stanley Arden, "you shall not escape me! 
Give me back my property, or I at once hand you over to the 
police." 

Serpentine struggled fiercely, but Stanley held him with the 
strength of a lion. The waiters came up and interposed. Serpen- 
tine shook off Stanley, and ran swiftly from the club, and was seen 
no more. Forrester and Philip endeavoured to pacify Stanley, but 
without avail ; he was deeply agitated. " The villain has escaped 
me," he said, "but he cannot surely escape the vengeance of 
Heaven." 

Nor did he ; the speech was prophetic. Three months elapsed. 
It subsequently transpired that, in his hurry to escape from Stanley 
Arden, Serpentine rushed blindly into the street, and was knocked 
down by a cab; he received severe injuries, which necessitated his 
removal to a hospital. When he was able to quit the walls of the 
charitable institution, he, by the advice of his physician, sought 
the inland watering-place called Buxton, where he endeavoured to 



40 TELEGKAPII SECEETS. 

recruit his wasted energies. But the numerous excesses of his 
youth now warred against his recovery, and he became daily worse 
and worse. 

At the end of the month of September, 18 — ,1 was in the West- 
End office of the Telegraphic Company I then had the honour to 
serve, when I received the following message : — " Prom Henry 
Serpentine, Buxton, Derbyshire, to Stanley Arden, Bury Street, 
St. James's. — Dear boy, forgive me ; I am dying. Come at once, 
that I may with my last breath restore the property of which I 
have so long deprived you." 

There being no boy in the office at the time, and seeing that the 
message was most urgent, I put on my hat and ran round to Bury 
Street with it. I found the Ardens at tea. It was only natural 
that they should be rejoiced at the news I brought them. In an 
hour's time they were on the road to Buxton. In their presence 
Henry Serpentine made a will, which gave them all the money of 
which he was possessed, which was amply sufficient to buy back 
Bramly ; in return for which they frankly and freely gave him their 
forgiveness. 

But it so happened, that there was no necessity for that. Stanley 
became acquainted with the new possessor of his ancestral domains, 
and married his daughter; so that, in the natural sequence of 
events, he came to his own again ; while Philip Arden obtained 
distinction in the commercial world, and bought an estate near his 
brother. 

This history I learnt afterwards from their own lips, for they 
always accounted me a friend. Had I not at once gone with the 
telegram, Serpentine would have died without doing justice, and 
his wealth would have gone to his brother, who was unacquainted 
with this Secret of the Telegraph. 



III.— QUICKER THAN LIGHTNING. 



A distinguished telegraph company, in whose service I had the 
honour of working for many years, had their chief office not far 
from Charing Cross. In this office I was chief clerk. One wintry, 
windy day in the boisterous month of March, when rude Boreas 
had it all his own way, and clouds of dust were careering to the 
sky, a middle-aged man entered the office, and taking up a form 
began to write. Presently he looked up, and exclaimed, address- 
ing me, " I suppose it is a matter of indifference to you whether 
you send messages in English, French, or German?" 



QUICKER THAN LIGHTNING. 41 

" Quito so, sir. We merely send the letters, and we do not care 
if the words are Sanscrit, so long as they are properly trans- 
mitted, and made intelligible to your correspondent." 

"Do you ever send messages in cypher?" he inquired. 

" Frequently." 

" Ah ! that is what I wanted to know," he exclaimed ; " for I 
am desirous of sending some commercial intelligence to a friend at 
Liverpool, and I should not like my news to be read by anyone." 

"You may rely upon the secresy of our empolyes." 

" No doubt, no doubt ; but as you have no objection to sending 
my message in a disguised shape, I shall take the liberty of 
clothing it in a garb unintelligible to anyone but my friend." 

"As you please, sir," I replied. "I must inform you, however, 
that the charge will be higher than the rate for the transmission 
of ordinary messages." 

"That is a trifle," he said, waving his hand carelessly. 

He went on writing, and I had a good opportunity of ob- 
serving him. He appeared to be a man of between forty-five and 
fifty. He was well dressed, and wore a thick frieze overcoat ; his 
hat was neatly brushed, and he looked like a well-to-do merchant ; 
a small pair of blue spectacles assisted his impaired powers of 
vision. His hair was short, curly, and I thought preternaturally 
dry ; it was more like a well-kept wig than anything else, but it 
was difficult to suppose that a man in the prime of life, or there- 
abouts, should discard his natural hirsute appendages and wear 
those of the practical barber. 

"Will this go quickly?" he asked, handing me the sheet which 
he had disfigured with his illegible caligraphy. 

"Yes, sir." 

" Quicker than lightning, eh ?" 

" Quite as quickly, sir, as soon as we put it on the wires." 

"Ah! a magnificent invention! Really, science advances i&. 
these days with gigantic strides." 

" So it does, sir." 

" Just read that over, and see if there will be any difficulty in 
transmitting it." 

A strange message it was, too ; I could not make head or tail of 
it, and gave him credit for some talent in manufacturing cypher. 
It ran thus : — 

" Ihttn a gftsas biltn brtrma aot'apob tcsi wltma 3 otm — ave aken 
he otes nd old rom he afe nd hall e n iverpool o ight e eady o eceive 
c nd t nee ake assage n oard he unard teamer sis hich eaves he 
ersey t clock omorrow orning." 

" Can you make anything of it P" he inquired, with a dry smile. 

" Not much, sir." 

" Can you send it for me ? — that is the main thing." 

" Oh, yes, we can send it safe enough. You have, however, for- 
gotten the name of the person you are communicating with." 



42 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

" Have I omitted that P That is silly. Give me back the paper." 

"Shall I fill in the names for you?" I asked, with a civility 
which, in business at least, is at all times part and parcel of my 
nature. 

" If you please." 

I stood with the pen in my hand, ready to write at his dictation. 

" It is from G. K., London, to Mr. Abrams, Baltic Lane, Liverpool." 

"Will you give me your name in full, sir?" 

"It is unnecessary." 

" It is a rule of the company's, sir, to have the name and address 
of the sender of a message," I persisted. 

" Oh, if that is the case, I will give it you without the least 
hesitation. I was merely desirous of saving expense, my good sir, 
do you see? — of saving expense," he replied, rather embarrassed. 

"We make no charge for name and address, sir; we merely 
charge for the message itself, according to the number of words." 

"Very well; my name is — ah — is George Karslake, Lombard 
Street." 

"From Mr. George Karslake, Lombard Street, to Mr. Abrams, 
Baltic Lane, Liverpool. One pound five, sir." 

He paid the money, and after urging me to despatch the message 
at once, left the office. " Singular old gentleman !" was my mental 
exclamation when he had taken his departure. 

As the message was a difficult one to send, I did not give it to 
any of the women whom we employed as clerks in the office, but 
I determined to send it myself, and I also resolved to take the copy 
home with me, for the purpose of exercising my ingenuity in trying 
to discover the purport and meaning of the message, which in its 
present shape was so mysterious. Every cypher, however puzzling, 
must have its key; and it would be an agreeable amusement to me 
to puzzle away in the effort to find the key to the one before me. 

While I was at work upon the message, and sending it to Liver- 
pool, as the old gentleman had expressed it, " quicker than light- 
ning, ' one of our boys came in and said, " If you please, sir, Mr. 
Dudley wishes to see you." 

Grasping the handle with one hand, and keeping my eye on the 
dial of the machine, I said, " Tell him to come in." 

Dudley was a famous officer in the Detective force — the very man, 
in fact, who was mainly instrumental in running Desmond De 
Vigne to earth— and I opined that he had some business in hand 
on which he wished to consult me. 

" Hard at it !" he exclaimed as he entered. 

"Not more so than usual," I answered carelessly. 

" I thought you had given up telegraphing," he said; "anything 
important on?" 

" I have got a very funny message to send to Liverpool ; it is all 
in cypher, and I thought it would be safer in my hands than in any 
other person's." 



QUICKEB THAN LIGHTNING. 43 

" Exactly. Well, don't let me interrupt you ; my business will 
keep for a little while." 

" I shall not be five minutes now," I answered. 

He sat down and took up the paper, while I sent the rest of the 
message to its destination. "When I had finished, I turned to him 
and exclaimed, " Now, then, Dudley, I am at your service." 

"Here goes, then: a robbery on a very large scale has taken 
place in the City this morning." 

"Indeed!" _ 

"The culprit is supposed to be a confidential clerk in the house 
of Bremen Brothers, the merchants who have been robbed," con- 
tinued Dudley. " He is a young man, not more than thirty, and 
has decamped with fifteen thousand pounds in hard cash, that is to 
say, in notes and gold." 

"That is a bold stroke." 

"Particularly so." 

"In what way can I be of service to you?" I inquired. 

" I heard from Bremen Junior that Gillian Kitely — the thief of 
whom I am speaking — has friends in Liverpool." 

"Yes." 

" And it is supposed that he will telegraph to them to inform 
them of his future movements. "Will you, to further the ends of 
justice, let me look over the telegrams you have sent since twelve 
o'clock to-day?" 

" Certainly ; but you had better begin with this," I said, handing 
him the cypher of George Karslake. 

He took it, and glanced curiously over it. " From George Kars- 
lake!" he said, in a tone of surprise, "why, that's G. K." 

" Of course it is ; what then ?" 

" Why, just this : G. K. makes Gillian Kitely, the very man I 
am in search of!" 

" Oh !" I ejaculated. 

" Describe him to me, and let me have all the particulars of this 
telegram, if I am not troubling you too much." 

" Not at all. The man has not been gone long ; I have his fea- 
tures in my mind's eye quite distinctly." 

I then described him, but Dudley did not identify him with Kitely 
by my description. 

"Kitely is dark and much younger,' - he said; "his eyesight is 
good, and he does not wear spectacles. All that, however, goes for 
nothing; some men are so clever at disguising themselves, that 
their own mothers would not know them if they met them acci- 
dentally in the street." 

" At first," I remarked, " he refused to give me his name ; he 
wished me to send the telegram from ' G. K., Lombard Street !' " 

" Where Bremen Brothers' office is," interposed Dudley. 

" Is it ? That may be a link in your chain. It is a pity we can- 
not interpret the cypher." 



4A TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

" Let me bewilder myself over it for half an hour," exclaimed 
Dudley ; " I fancy, somehow or other, that we are on the scent. I 
am a pretty good hand at unravelling mysteries, it is my trade, 
you know, and I'll do my best to cut this Gordian knot." 

I had heard that Dudley was a good hand at reading the cyphers 
in which thieves correspond ; I knew him to be an accomplished 
detective, and as I left the room to attend to business, I had some 
hope that he would succeed in his endeavour to solve the mystery. 

Half an hour elapsed ; I then sought Dudley, who waved me 
away, saying hurriedly, "I have a clue; indulge me for a short 
time longer, and I will make all clear to you." 

I went away again, and on returning a second time, I saw the 
detective smilingly regarding something he had written upon a 
slip of paper. 

" Here is the solution of the problem," he said ; " I have had 
some trouble over it, but it was not so difficult as I expected. ' G. 
K.' is, as I suspected, Gillian Kitely ; he telegraphs to his Jewish 
friend in Baltic Lane, and this is what he says." 

I sat down, and listened attentively to what fell from Dudley, 
who I could see was rather proud of his achievement, which, in 
point of fact, was most creditable to him. In a clear voice he read 
the following explanation of the cryptograph : — 

" I have taken the notes and gold from the safe, and shall be in 
Liverpool to-night. Be ready to receive me, and at oace take a 
passage on board the Ounard Steamer Isis, which leaves the Mer- 
sey at 3 o'clock to-morrow morning." 

"And now, in the name of all that's wonderful, let me ask you 
how you managed to interpret the 'Mene, mene?'" I exclaimed. 

"In this way: I at once detected a difference between the first 
part of the cryptograph and the second. Three words particularly 
attracted my attention in the latter part — they were, ' iverpool,' 
'omorrow,' and 'orning.' Now, 'iverpool' is plainly 'Liverpool* 
minus one letter ; in the same way ' omorrow' and ' orning' make 
' to-morrow' and ' morning.' I then took the first letter in the com- 
mencement of the telegram, and the first word in the latter portion. 
I could make nothing of them, so I abandoned the letter I, which 
I subsequently found was the personal pronoun. The second letter, 
h, tacked on to the word ' ave,' made ' have.' I now began to see 
my way ; ' aken,' with the missing t, was ' taken :' I had distinctly, 
' I have taken.' Do you comprehend me?" 

" Perfectly ; and I give you great praise for your cleverness." 

" Well ; after having made out the beginning, my course was 
clear, it was all plain sailing. My visit to you to-day was a fortu- 
nate one. Mr. Abrams, of Baltic Lane, will have a visitor this 
evening that he does not reckon upon." 

"You will make a clever capture," I said. 

" I hope so, most sincerely. Bremen Brothers have offered a 
large reward for the apprehension of Kitely, which, as I have be\>-i 



QUICKER THAN LIGHTNING. 45 

rather unlucky lately, will be very acceptable ; and as I allowed a 
man to get away the other day by a most transparent device, I 
shall, by taking Kitely, regain my lost prestige." 

" I am rejoiced to hear it. I wish I could be of service to you." 

"You can," said Dudley, shortly and decisively. 

" In what way ?" 

" You would have no difficulty, I suppose, in recognizino; your 
G K?" 

"Not the slightest." 

"Very well," replied Dudley; " I will, if you like, apply for you 
to accompany me to Liverpool for the purpose of identification." 

"Nothing I should like better. I have no arrangements to 
make, and can go at a moment's notice," I exclaimed, pleased at 
the prospect of an adventure, while I should have the additional 
advantage of a change of air and scene, the value of which all 
hard-worked London men know full well how to appreciate. 

"We have no time to lose," said Dudley. "The passage Kitely 
asks Abrams to take for him is palpably one to New York. The 
Cunard steamers run to New York, and the Isis is one of the most 
celebrated of them." 

"Why not arrest him at the station?" 

"That would not answer my purpose," replied Dudley. " I not 
only want the man, but I want the plunder ; he is sure to bring 
it, or the proceeds, with him to Abrams' house, and we shall have 
little or no difficulty in killing the two birds with one stone. I 
have no objection, though, to travel in the same train with him ; 
if I am not mistaken, he will go by the express which leaves Lon- 
don at five o'clock." 

" I am with you," said I, bowing deferentially to his superior 
judgment. 

The necessary application to the authorities of the Telegraph 
Company was made, and I was granted leave of absence for a day 
or two. Dudley was one of those men who are always ready for 
any emergency ; a small black leather travelling-bag contained all 
he wanted, even to a few pairs of handcuffs to adorn the wrists of 
those unhappy wretches for whose arrest he had a warrant. 

" I always take my ' guide-books ' with me," he said. 

" Why do you call them ' guide-books' ?" I, in my ignorance, de- 
manded. 

" Because they are meant for two wrists, otherwise tourists," he 
replied, with a smile. 

I never remembered having seen Dudley in such excellent 
spirits ; he was full of anecdote, and his conversational power was 
really admirable. 

On arriving at the station we saw nothing of G. K., and I at 
once came to the conclusion that he had taken his departure by 
an earlier train, in order to throw anyone who might be in search 
of him off the scent. 



46 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

"Not a bit of it,' cried Dudley, when he heard my view of the 
case; "the man's here somewhere, but he has had recourse to 
another disguise. If you expected to see Mr. George Karslake 
here, your simplicity is amusing ; he is much too clever a man to 
adopt one disguise for more than an hour or two together. We 
shall trap our fox at Ab rams', or on board the steamer. If be 
slips through my fingers, I'll forgive him with all the pleasure in 

Talking like this, we went to the bar to obtain some refreshment 
efore we started. 

"Yes," repeated Dudley, "if he escapes me, I'll forgive him. I 
have not been in the A Reserve all these years for nothing, as 
G. K. will find out." 

It was undoubtedly imprudent of Dudley to speak so pointedly 
and distinctly in a public place, and he found out his mistake 
afterwards. His words were overheard by more than one indi- 
vidual. A young man dressed in a sailor's garb, and having a 
rough appearance, said — " I am sorry for G. K., whoever he may 
be. I don't think he stands much chance with you." 

" You think in the right direction for once in your life," answered 
Dudley, good-humouredly. 

"What do you want him for?" asked the sailor. 

"I owe him some money, and feel desirous of paying him," 
said Dudley, winking at me. 

" Oh ! and what are you, if I may make so bold as to ask P" 

"A sheep farmer, and more like a lamb myself than anything 
else." 

"Are you going to Liverpool?" 

" Oh dear, no; only a few miles down the line." 

" Will you take a glass of something before you start P" 

"Will you?" asked Dudley. 

" I don't mind if I do." 

" What shall it be P" 

"A glass of mother-in-law — that's always my tap," said the 
sailor. 

"What's that?" asked Dudley, rather puzzled. 

" Why, old and bitter," replied the sailor, with a loud laugh, that 
would have made the welkin ring, if one of those rustic mysteries 
had been at hand. 

"Oh! that's a chalk to you," exclaimed Dudley. "My friend 
and I will have the same. What's to pay ?" he added. 

"A leather-dresser," answered the sailor. 

"You're getting beyond me again," said Dudley. 

"Don't you understand?" 

" No more than I did at first. What's a leather-dresser?" 

"A tanner; in other words, a sixpence." 

" Oh ! then three glasses of mother-in-law cost a leather-dresser. 
I see. It appears that I'm learning something." 



QUICKER MAN LtGIITXIXG. 47 

The sailor drank his beer, and said, ""Will you havo another, 
shipmate?" 

'• Not for me, thank you," replied Dudley. 

" Then I'm off. Good-bye. Don't forget what I've taught you." 

"Not in a hurry." 

" That's right. I may teach you something else one of these 
days — that is to say, should we meet again." 

Dudley stared after him, but did not understand the real sig- 
nification of his words until some time afterwards. 

" Don't forget G. K.," said the sailor, turning round at the en- 
trance to the refreshment-room. 

"Don't alarm yourself about that," said Dudley. Turning to 
me, he added, "That's a queer fish." 

" Yery much so," I replied. " Do you know what struck me 
while he was talking?" 

"No." 

" I fancied he was G. K. himself." 

"By George! I wouldn't mind betting what he calls a leather- 
dresser you're right. Bless me ! what a fool I must have been ! 
I do believe I'm getting silly in my old age. "Well, if it were 
Kitely, I will say that he is a plucky fellow ; we shall have tough 
work with him." 

" Are you not afraid that what you incautiously said before him 
may put him on his guard?" 

" Not at all. He does not suppose for a moment that I have 
construed his telegram." 

" I fancied he recognized me." 

" It is not likely. I will stake my professional reputation that he 
is at Abrams' in less than an hour after the train reaches Liverpool." 

" Keep your eye on the sailor," I suggested. 

" My dear fellow," replied Dudley, " if Kitely and the sailor are 
the same, you may depend upon it that he has a dozen or more 
disguises ; he will pop into some private place, and slip on a great 
coat and otherwise change his appearance. You will soon see if I 
am right ; if I am, you will see no more of the sailor ; that me- 
tamorphosis, for the present at least, is played out. 

I looked in every carriage and watched the people on the plat- 
form, but I did not see anything of the sailor. Dudley was right, 
and I felt convinced that Gillian Kitely was travelling with us, 
and that he was moreover on his guard. During the long journey 
Dudley looked anxious and worried ; his excellent spirits deserted 
him, and ho seemed to be impregnated with some gloomy pre- 
sentiment of coming evil. "We arrived in Liverpool in due course, 
and finding that Dudley was still in a preoccupied mood, I at- 
tempted to rally him, but without success. 

" I am afraid of something," he said, " but I cannot tell you 
what. I have a presentiment that something will happen to me 
within four-and-twenty hours." 



48 iiLEGEArii seceeTs. 

" Oh!" I exclaimed, "you have the silly superstitious feeling of 
old women." 

"You may ridicule me; I may be wrong, and you may right; 
let the future 'judge between us." 

"That coming events cast their shadows before, I have heard," 
I replied ; " the shadow of your event seems to be a particularly 
dark one." 

"Never mind. Put speculation on one side; let us think of 
business. If I die in doing my duty, I shall be content." 

Going to an inn near the station, we left our travelling-bags, 
and had some supper; then we proceeded to the chief police- 
station, and made our business known to the chief superintendent, 
who at once despatched a man to the Isis, to inquire which berth 
had been engaged by Abrams. He had further instructions — viz., 
to stay on board until the vessel was on the point of sailing ; and 
if the invividual we were in search of came to take possession of 
his berth, to arrest him, and bring him back to the shore. 

Baltic Lane was a small thoroughfare chiefly inhabited by Jews. 
We heard that Mr. Abrams was in anything but savoury odour 
with the police, who regarded him as a receiver of stolen goods. 
They had i3ver been able to bring the fact home to him, and were 
delighted at the prospect of inculpating him in the Lombard 
Street robbery. If the plunder brought by Gillian Kitely was 
found in his house, there would be no loophole through which he 
could escape. 

Dudley carried a revolver; it was an invariable practice of his. 
The possession of this dangerous weapon gave him confidence, 
and I must confess it somewhat reassured me. 

" I feel that we have dangerous work on hand, Mortimer," he 
said to me. " Kitely is not only a clever but a desperate man. If 
he succeeds in eluding my vigilance to-night, he may do well in 
the New World ; but if, on the other hand, I capture him, he will 
infallibly be doomed to fifteen or twenty years' penal servitude, 
and a man will do much for his liberty." 

" To be sure he will ; but of what need you be afraid ?" I replied. 

''I have a vague presentiment of coming danger." 

"Nonsense, man!" I exclaimed; "shake off such enervating 
ideas." 

We walked on in silence until we came to Baltic Lane. Mr. 
Abrams' house was ostensibly the abode of a dealer in marine 
stores; he bought property, old and new, of all descriptions; he 
lent money ; ho bought old gold ; he was anything and everything, 
and was the most skilful old "fence" in the town. The shop was 
closed when we arrived, but a light in the parlour showed us that 
the Jew was up. 

Dudley did not think it prudent to enter the house. Such a 
movement on his part would put both Abrams and Kitely on their 
guard. A man of resources like Abrams would no doubt have 



QUICKER THAN LIGHTNING. 49 

hiding-places or doors at the back of his house, through which 
Kitely could escape if menaced. It was Dudley's opinion that 
Kitely would not be at the Jew's house at all. His object was to 
watch Abrams, and follow him wherever he went ; so we stood on 
a doorstep opposite his house for three-quarters of an hour; at 
the expiration of that time our assiduity was rewarded. Abrams, 
who had been fully described to us, emerged from his dwelling, 
and muffled in a great coat and comforter, walked rapidly in the 
direction of the docks. 

Taking me by the arm, Dudley said, "Come along; a sovereign 
to a bad penny, he is going to meet Kitely." 

Since we left the metropolis a change had taken place in the 
weather. It was, as my friend expressed it, "two coats warmer." 
The wind had suddenly veered round to the south-west, and the 
air was almost spring-like in its balminess. 

Abrams appeared well acquainted with the town. It was fortu- 
nate for Dudley that he had once been on duty in Liverpool for 
six months, so that his knowledge of the tortuous and winding 
streets in the neighbourhood of the docks was anything but cir- 
cumscribed. 

"Do you think Kitely will offer any resistance?" I said to 
Dudley. 

" What unlimited faith you must have in human nature to ask 
such a question!" he replied, a little sarcastically. 

"Will not your pistol terrify him?" 

" If you mean to ask me whether he would choose imprisonment 
or death, I should say the former; death is final — there is no es- 
cape from it ; but even the most miserable felon has his chance of 
a ticket-of-leave." 

We had now entered a small, ill-looking street, in the centre of 
which on the right-hand side was a public-house ; it rejoiced in 
the sign of the "Lively Shrimp." Mr. Abrams turned in here, 
and we as a matter of course followed. To the left was a parlour 
common to all. As the Jew flung the door open, Dudley and I 
caught sight of a face which we had no difficulty in recognizing 
as that of the sailor who had accosted us in the refreshment-room 
of the railway station. He was dressed in a precisely similar 
manner, and had been making fun with some of the real old salts, 
by whom the parlour of the Lively Shrimp was filled. We sat 
down in the parlour, and chose a position as near the conspirators 
as we conveniently could. Now and then we heard their conver- 
sation plainly, but at times the sailors, bent upon a carouse, would 
burst into a loud laugh, which drowned everything but the echo 
of their noisy cacchination. As we sat behind Kitely and Abrams, 
they were unaware of our proximity, and discoursed with the ut- 
most freedom. Kitely handed Abrams a pocket-book, sayiDg, 
" There are the notes ; the gold is upstairs in a deal box, marked 
with the initials ' Gr. K./ and labelled ' hardware.' Everything has 



5tJ TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

gone on well up to the present time, but I feel an inclination to 
stay here for a week or two." 

'■'Will you not sail in the Isis to-night?" inquired Abrams, sur- 
prised. 

" No ; my intuitions tell me that the police are already on my 
track, and the first place they would go to would be your house, 
as you are known at Bremen's to be a friend of mine ; the next 
place they would visit would be the dock in which the Isis is 
lying." 

"Perhaps you are right," said Abrams. 

"I am convinced that I take tbe most prudent view of the 
situation." 

"I should feel less nervous if you were safely away." 

" Oh !" said Gillian Kitely, with a venomous smile, " do not be 
nervous on my account. Thank Heaven! I have an average 
amount of sense, and know how to make use of it." 

" You know best, my friend," replied Abrams, " and you shall 
please yourself. If you do not sail in the Isis to-night, however, 
the deposit I paid on your passage-money is lost." 

" And you would have me jeopardize my liberty for the sake of 
a paltry ten-pound note ?" cried Kitely, angrily. 

" Money is money." 

" If you are so narrow-minded, I regret having had anything to 
do with you. It is your penny-wise and pound-foolish people who 
never cany great enterprises through." 

" Well, well," said the Jew, a little nettled, " we will not quarrel 
about nothing. Call for some more grog, and let us arrange our 
plan of action." 

The waiter, in compliance with Kitely's request, brought them 
tumblers of rum-and-water. Just as Kitely was raising his glass 
to his lips, Dudley sprang up, and standing before him, exclaimed, 
in a tone of concentrated triumph and determination, "Gillian 
Kitely, you are my prison er !" 

The consternation of the man was wonderful to witness, but it 
was only momentary. He became deadly pale. The tumbler fell 
from his trembling hand, and was shivered into fifty pieces upon 
the sanded floor. 

"Your prisoner!" he cried, when he recovered himself; 



' never 



I, in the interval, placed myself by the side of the Jew, and in- 
timated to him that he must not attempt to escape, or the conse- 
quences would be anything but pleasant to him, should he be rash 
enough to defy the majesty of the law. 

Gillian Kitely's face wore a most demoniacal expression. He 
seemed at that moment to be capable of committing any atrocity. 
In the terrible dilemma in which he found himself, I feared he 
would not shrink from the crime of murder; nor was I mistaken. 

"Resistance is useless; the house is surrounded by police," 



QWICKEM THAN LIGHTNING. 51 

said Dudley. "You are bound to come, so you may as well come 
quietly." 

All at once a snake-like calm came over Kitely ; shrugging his 
shoulders, he replied, " You have been one too many for me, and I 
suppose I must admit it." 

Dudley took a pair of handcuffs from his pocket. Kitely saw 
the irons gleam in the gaslight, and felt that a bold dash must be 
made, or the game was over. With a quick movement, almost 
amounting to the rapidity of legerdemain, he drew a bowie-knife 
from his breast, and without the slightest compunction plunged ic 
to the shaft in Dudley's side. He uttered a cry, and fell bleeding 
to the floor. Abrams clapped his hands with delight. While I 
ran to my friend's assistance, Kitely walked coolly to the door, un- 
molested by anyone. The sailors were open-mouthed with astonish- 
ment, but not one attempted to stay the progress of the murderer 
who was leaving them red-handed. When he reached the door, 
Kitely exclaimed, " The fool rushed upon his fate. I warned him, 
and he would not take my admonition. Now he is paying the 
penalty of his rashness." With this he stalked into the night, 
and was swallowed up in the darkness without. 

But retributive justice followed close at his heels. The landlord 
of the tavern no sooner comprehended what had taken place, than 
he recognized 'the fact that he would be blamed for making no 
effort to stop the murderer. Bushing into the street, he raised a 
hue-and-cry, by shouting "murder!" and "police!" at the top of 
his voice. 

Alarmed by the furious outcry, Gillian Kitely increased his 
pace, and endeavoured to make his escape. Not being well ac- 
quainted with the locality, he soon became confused and lost his 
way. The night was dark; the lanterns of the watchmen glim- 
mered occasionally like glow-worms. 

To wander about the docks at night is extremely dangerous, 
because one gate may be shut while the other is open, conse- 
quently, the unwary traveller may be precipitated into the water, 
and there perish miserably. 

Gillian Kitely's pockets were filled with gold. He carried a 
dead-weight of gold with him, which, oddly enough, ensured his 
destruction. Finding he had lost his way, he was retracing his 
steps, when he took a half-turn to the left, which brought him to a 
gate barring the entrance to a dock of large dimensions ; he at once 
attempted to cross, but did not dream that the corresponding gate 
was open. He stumbled, fell forward — there was a plunge, and he 
sank into the seething water. Although an accomplished swim- 
mer, the gold with which he was laden weighed him down, and he 
was soon suffocated. His body was not recovered until the next 
day, nor was his fate known until many hours after his death. 

We must now return to the tavern. Abrams did not attempt 
to escape; he sat in a state of stupefaction, and made no sign. 



52 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

Finding that Dudley was very seriously injured, I bound up the 
wound as well as I was able, and having staunched the blood, I 
had him conveyed to the hospital, where the doctors entertained 
but faint hope of his recovery, After hovering between life and 
death for more than a month, he began to improve, and finally 
got better, though for a long time he wore but the shadow of 
his former self. 

Abrams was thrown into prison, and severely punished for being 
the accomplice of Gillian Kitely. The whole of the stolen property 
was recovered , and though the telegraph was " quicker than 
lightning," it proved the destruction in this instance, instead of 
the salvation, of a shrewd but wickedly unscrupulous man. 



IV— THE CLANDESTINE BRIDAL. 



Op all the quiet, retired villages, Merryvale is the quietest and 
most retired. I speak with authority on the subject, because I 
lived there in the capacity of telegraph clerk for eighteen months. 
It was always a matter of surprise and wonder to me that Merry- 
vale should indulge in the luxury of a telegraph station ; but where 
there is a railway the electric machine is generally established. 
I cannot conscientiously say that I had much to do, or that I ob- 
jected to the absence of hard work. I was, at that period of my 
life, particularly fond of reading, and I taxed the resources of the 
Merryvale circulating library to their utmost. 

One of the most influential gentlemen in the neighbourhood of 
Mei'ryvale was Mr. Crespigny Warner, whose daughter was the 
standing toast of these counties. Everyone who had the slightest 
pretension to good taste and discrimination bestowed unlimited 
admiration upon Kathleen "Warner. 

In a remote country village everybody knows everybody, and 
there is no such thing as privacy. We knew that Mr. Warner 
was endeavouring to force an objectionable match upon his lovely 
daughter, and that she, like a high-spirited girl as she was, re- 
sisted her father's tyranny in a determined manner, which any- 
thing but pleased him. Of course she had the sympathy of most 
of the Merryvalians, myself amongst the number. 

John Blount, a young gentleman living with his father some 
little distance from Mr. Warner's house, was on very friendly 
terms with the family, and had, in the October preceding the 



THE .CLANDESTINE BEIDA1. 53 

August in which charming month my story commences, brought 
down a friend, who, as a matter of course, no sooner saw Miss 
Kathleen "Warner than he learnt to love her ; the more he knew 
her, the more he appreciated her wondrous beauty and sterling 
moral worth. But his suit found little favour with Mr. Warner, 
for though an Oxford man and an accomplished gentleman, he 
was lamentably poor ; his father had left him the inadequate in- 
come of one hundred and fifty pounds a-year, upon which Oliver 
Fenton did his best to exist. 

The man Mr. Warner had selected for his daughter's husband 
was a Frenchman, calling himself the Count Soubise. He repre- 
sented that he had vast estates in France, kept horses, and, in 
fact, seemed to have any amount of money. 

Mr. Warner's father had been a cotton- spinner ; his fortune was 
made in Manchester, and he was anything but an hereditary lord 
of the soil he occupied. When the Warners first came into the 
country, they were looked upon as nouveaux riches, and met with 
anything but a kind reception. Warner fancied that he should 
achieve a triumph over the landed aristocracy who now snubbed 
him, if he could make his charming daughter the Countess Sou- 
bise. He liked a title — your thoroughgoing Manchester man 
always likes a title — and to be able to talk of '' my daughter, the 
Countess," was anything but a negative advantage to a man like 
Warner, who, by those of Anglo-Norman blood, was openly talked 
of as the affluent tradesman. 

Count Soubise took up his quarters at Alfreston Hall, Mr. 
Warner's country-seat, and was made the welcome and distin- 
guished guest. All Mr. Warner's friends in the vicinity, and even 
some from Manchester and London, were asked down to meet the 
Count, who smiled placidly, not to say benignantly, at these 
honours which were thrust upon him, and said, that from the 
bottom of his heart he thanked his dear English friend and bene- 
factor ; then he would go to the jeweller's in the nearest market 
town, and purchase a handsome diamond bracelet, which he would 
send to Miss Warner with the respectful compliments of Count 
Soubise. The Count's manner was so gentle and unassuming, 
that the friends of Mr. Warner voted him a " perfect gentleman," 
and congratulated Kathleen upon the advantageous match she 
was soon to make; but she sadly shook her head, and left the 
room to hide the tears which rose to her eyes and dimmed her 
vision. 

When the Count was not present after dinner at Alfreston Hall, 
Mr. Warner, under the influence of his tawny port, was wont to 
exclaim, with some of the leaven of his early education, "I flatter 
myself I know a gentleman when I see him. The Count's a gen- 
tleman, sir, every inch of him, and he's the man for my money. 
If Kathleen don't see it now, she will some of these days." 

Although Oliver Fenton had been plainly told by Mr. Warner 



54 TELEGRAPH SECKETS. 

that there was no hope for him in the contest with Connt Sonbise, 
the poor fellow was so passionately enamoured of Kathleen, that 
he was totally unable to stay away from the atmosphere in which 
she lived. He came down to Merryvale, and took lodgings over 
the circulating library, in which house I had a back-bedroom look- 
ing upon smiling meads and an undulating expanse of varied 
scenery. He dined nearly every day with his friend, John Blount, 
who, knowing the value of a richly-stored mind, cultivated his 
society, and found undiluted pleasure in the companionship of a 
worthy man, whose only fault was his poverty. 

Kathleen "Warner was an heiress. An uncle on her father's side 
had left her a large sum, which, during her minority, fructified in 
the hands of careful bankers, so that in a year's time she would, 
on attaining her majority, be entitled to the sum of thirty thousand 
pounds, which was an inducement to marriage that our friend the 
Connt Soubise very probably had an eye to. 

One morning Mr. Warner talked very seriously to his daughter. 
He told her he should insist upon being obeyed, and that she should 
have her own way no longer. He would give her no more than a 
fortnight ; at the end of that time she should marry the Count. 

She received this intimation tearfully, and declared, that if her 
father proceeded to the extremity he threatened, he would destroy 
her happiness for ever, and render her the most miserable creature 
that ever existed. 

John Blount and Oliver Fenton held a council of war when this 
news reached them. They met at Fenton's apartments. Blount 
was going to shoot some pigeons, and he had his gun slung over 
his shoulder, while his favourite dogs accompanied him. 

" So," he exclaimed, "you are not destined, it seems, to run in 
double harness, my boy. Old Warner has decided upon marrying 
his daughter to that French fellow who is always at the Hall, and 
for whom I have not only an unmitigated contempt, but a positive 
hatred." 

" You need not ask me whether I share your antipathy or not," 
said Oliver Fenton. 

" I should imagine that you regarded him with anything but 
Christian charity." 

" You are right. But as we are on the horns of a dilemma, let 
us see what can be done." 

" By all means," responded Blount. "You shall, in a few words, 
be made acquainted with my view of the case. I firmly believe 
that Kathleen knows you love her, and reciprocates your passion." 

" She has always led me to believe so." 

" That is good. Before her father drove her into a corner, I do 
not think anything would have induced her to rise in open re- 
bellion to him ; but now that he has shown himself an unreflecting 
tyrant, why, she will be inclined to do anything to escape the 
odious fate with which she is menaced." 



THE CLANDESTINE BRIDAL. 55 

" Is that your opinion ?" 

"It is." 

" I hope you may be correct in your estimate of her character," 
said Fenton, feelingly. 

" I am convinced I am. You forget that I am older than your- 
self, and have no slight knowledge of the world. I have studied 
women in almost every country, and have found them both im- 
pulsive and capricious. Now is your golden opportunity; lay 
siege to Miss "Warner in a steady and deliberate manner." 

" With what object in view ?" 

" Matrimony." 

" How is it to be accomplished ?" 

" Bo romantic for once in your life, and go in for a ' clandestine 
bridal.' " 

"What is that?" 

"Listen to me, and you shall hear. Wentworth — you know 
Wentworth, Mr. Warner's chaplain — is particularly intimate with 
me ; we were at college together, and I obtained for him the posi- 
tion he now holds, which, although not very distinguished or 
splendidly lucrative, is yet worth having in the absence of better 
patronage. Wentworth will, if I ask him, marry you young peo- 
ple. The chapel, as you know, stands at some little distance from 
the Hall, and we should have no difficulty in carrying the cere- 
mony through successfully." 

Fenton jumped up gleefully, and shook his friend by the hand. 

" You have suggested a most admirable way out of the diffi- 
culty," he exclaimed. 

" I am glad you approve of it," said Blount, quietly. " You had 
better seek Miss Warner, and make her a decided offer. If she 
accepts you, it will then be easy to arrange your future plans. I 
will in the meantime talk to Wentworth." 

"I have hitherto refrained from telling Kathleen that I love 
her," said Fenton, " because I would not let her think that I was 
mercenary. I wish to Heaven that she would not have that thirty 
thousand pounds in a year's time. If she were poorer than I, she 
would know that I was disinterested." 

"Ah!" exclaimed John Blount, with a laugh, "you are a tyro in 
the ways of the world. You will be only too glad of the money 
you despise when Kathleen is your wife. In point of fact, if she 
had nothing, I would not encourage the match. Think of the 
poverty to which you would consign her. If you can barely keep 
yourself on a hundred and fifty pounds per annum, how could 
you hope to keep a wife, feed, clothe, and educate your children?" 

"You have no right to talk to me like this," replied Fenton; 
"friendship has its limits, and you convince me that it is easy to 
overstep them." 

" And you convince me, dear boy, that it is easy to be a goose," 
said John Blount, good-humouredly smiling at his friend's chagrin. 



56 TELEGRAPH SECKETS, 

" I mean what I say," replied Oliver Fenton, still annoyed. 

" So do I," said John Blount, laughing louder than ever ; " and 
although I do not encourage it, I like the enthusiasm of youth, and 
admire it beyond measure. It is refreshing in the extreme to meet 
with it, more especially when one has been indulging in the society 
of the commercial plutocracy." 

Fenton' s anger vanished before his friend's genial manner. 

" Make your mind perfectly easy ; as far as my part of the matter 
goes," said Blount in continuation, " I will do all that I have un- 
dertaken to do, and more." 

Fenton looked inquiringly at him. 

" I will do all I can to find out something respecting our worthy 
Count's antecedents. I fancy he is a man with what novelists call 
a ' teeming past.' He looks as if he had his secrets." 

" So he does." 

*' I know the proper way to set to work to unravel the tangled 
skein of his chequered history, — here, you will perceive, I am 
touching on the peculiar province of the novelist again." 

"'Tangled skein of his chequered history' is not bad," said Fen- 
ton, with a laugh. " When you have collected materials for the 
task, you had better turn biographer, and write his life." 

" That, sir, if I am not mistaken, will be fitting work for the 
Newgate chronicler," replied Blount, with dignity. 

"Let us hope so," responded Oliver Fenton; "but I am not 
so sanguine as to such a result as you seem to be. Although I 
thoroughly detest the Count Soubise, I do not carry my prejudices 
to such an extent as you do." 

" I know something of the French peerage, dear boy, and I have 
never heard of Soubise ; I have moved in the best circles of Parisian 
society, and have never met Soubise ; I have visited most of the 
provincial towns, and never heard mention of a Count Soubise." 

"Let us be charitable. It is wrong to prejudge anyone." 

" That remark proceeds from your ecclesiastical training," said 
Blount. " It is very pretty, but in these days it is necessary to be 
on one's guard ; you never know who may be a clievalier cl'industrie 
and who an honest man. Well, I must go and kill those pigeons 
I spoke to you about, or there will be no pies. Will you come with 
me, or shall I leave you here P" 

" If I am not do trop, I shall be proud." 

" On the contrary, it is I who shall be proud. Shoulder your gun, 
and come along." 

Whistling to his dogs, John Blount led the way to the open air, 
and the two friends walked down the village High Street together, 
and presently turning sharply round to the left, they crossed a 
stile, and were soon lost to sight in the distance. 

The next day, Mr. Blount came to the railway station, and 
sauntering into my office, exclaimed. " Good morning, Mr. Morti- 
mer; are you very busy?" 



THE CLANDESTINE BE.IDAL. 67 

" Not more so than usual, sir," I replied. 

"That remark is voluminous in itself, and allows me some lati- 
tude," he said; "therefore I shall take the liberty of sitting down 
and dictating a message which I want you to send to France for 
me." 

" Very well, sir ; as I ha^e not at present to report the crash of 
empires or the fall of worlds, I am at your service." 

" So far, so good. ' Mr. John Blount, of Merryvale, to Mons. 
Jacques Henrade, of the Rue Tant-pis-et-Tant-pis, Paris.'" 

I wrote the preliminary portion of the message down, and look- 
ing up, awaited further instructions. 

" ' Are you acquainted with a Count Soubise ? if so, telegraph all 
particulars respecting him.' " 
"Is that all, sir?" 

" Every word of it, my modern magician. How long before you 
will get an answer?" 

"A couple of hours, if the wires are clear." 
"Eh lien!" said Mr. John Blount; " allow me during that time 
to participate in the pleasure that a foaming tankard will, I know, 
confer upon you; let us go to the adjoining tavern, and while 
away the time by the aid of good tobacco and indifferent malt 
liquor." 

Having nothing particular to do, I fell in with his proposition ; 
and after having despatched the message to London, and left word 
where I could be found if my services were urgently required, I 
followed Mr. Blount to the public-house. We ensconced ourselves 
in a shady arbour covered with blushing roses and fragrant 
clematis, and drank the cooling draught the attendant Hebe 
brought us. 

Knowing Blount to be a friend of Oliver Fenton, and being 
thoroughly well aware that the Count Soubise was Fenton's rival, 
I could fathom Blount's motive in sending the telegram. It was 
with some anxiety that I waited for the response. 

I had not been twenty minutes at the inn before the station-boy 
came and told me the. dial signalled a coming message. I was 
obliged to go in order to receive it, and left Mr. Blount where he 
was. Some time elapsed, and when he came to the office, I had 
the reply ready for him. It was not so satisfactory as he had 
anticipated. 

" Well, what news P" he exclaimed on entering the office. 
" The answer's come, sir. Shall I read it to you ?" 
" If you please." 

" ' From Sebastian Leroy, chief superintendent of police, Rue de 
Tant-pis, to John Blount, Merryvale. Henrade on business in the 
provinces ; will not return for ten days. Message shall be given 
when back.' " 

"That is awkward," muttered Blount. "Well, after all, the 
delay it necessitates is not so very ruinous." 



68 TELEGRAPH SECRETS, 

He wont away soon afterwards, enjoining upon me the necessity 
of jotting him know directly the message came in from Paris. 

In the meantime, Fenton progressed most favourably with Miss 
Kathleen Warner ; she not only accepted his offer, but agreed to 
marry him clandestinely. 

Henry Wentworth, Blount's friend, fell in with his views, and 
made no objection to the bridal, in which he was ready to perform 
his part. 

Seeking his idol, Oliver Fenton spoke to her in a secluded part 
of the garden attached to her father's house. She was dressed 
with a becoming simplicity, which set off the natural grace of her 
form ; holding a rose in her hands, she plucked it to pieces, and 
cast the bruised petals on the ground. Starting as she recognized 
her lover, she said, in a silvery voice, " Oh ! I am glad you have 
come. Not half an hour has elapsed since I was subjected to the 
most tiresome persecution on the part of that insufferable French 
person whom my father in his wisdom has thought fit to inflict 
upon me." 

" I pity you from the bottom of my heart," said Oliver Fenton. 
"I trust, though, that your days of unhappiness and suspense are 
nearly over. Mr. Wentworth will procure a special licence from 
the bishop of his diocese, and we can be married in three days 
from this time in the old chapel." 

Kathleen blushed until her cheek became the colour of the rose 
she held in her hand. " In three days ?" she murmured. 

" Yes, my darling; Wentworth will then have the licence. Shall 
I authorize him to make every preparation?" 

" Yes," she replied, in so low a tone as to be scarcely audible. 

" Bless you, my own — my own for ever and ever !" cried Fenton, 
raising her hand to his lips, and imprinting sweet kisses upon it. 

" I know not,' said Kathleen, " whether I am doing right or 
wrong. It grieves me to disobey my father, but I would rather 
die than espouse the Count Soubise. I have an invincible preju- 
dice against him." 

As she spoke a flight rustle was heard in a thicket of laurels. 

" Did you hear a noise?" inquired Oliver Fenton. 

He looked around him suspiciously. 

" I fancied a rabbit or a weasel moved amongst the dead leaves," 
said Kathleen. 

" Oh ! was that all P It is arranged then, dearest, that we are to 
be married in the old chapel at twelve o'clock on Thursday night. 
When you are my wife, you can defy Soubise, and you need not 
dread the future. I have money enough for our mutual wants 
until you come of age. I can mortgage my income, or even borrow 
from Blount, who is devoted to my interests." 

"It is arranged," answered Kathleen; "and I feel sure that in 
taking this step, hazardous as it may seem, I am going in the 
right direction — in that direction in whioh I must look for future 



THE CLANDESTINE BllIDAL. 5& 

happiness. I trust in time the scales will fall from my father's 
eyes, and he will applaud rather than condemn my independent 
action." 

The interview between the lovers lasted some little time longer. 
They parted, with happiness in their hearts and confidence in 
their future, libtle dreaming that the snake was moving in the 
grass. But so it was. 

Count Soubise was concealed in a thicket, and had overheard 
every word that had fallen from their lips. With a smile of un. 
disguised malignity he stole away, and sought Mr. "Warner, to 
whom he communicated what he had heard. 

Terrible was the wrath of the enraged father, who would at once 
have denounced his daughter, and upbraided her with her treachery, 
as he was pleased to denominate her conduot. He was, however, 
overruled by the Count Soubise, who persuaded him to allow his 
anger to slumber until the proper time for its explosion arrived. 
His counsel was to allow the lovers to make all their arrange- 
ments, and surprise them in the old chapel just as the ceremony 
was about to commence. With some reluctance, Mr. Warner con- 
sented to pursue this course. 

Henry Wentworth obtained the licence, and everything went on, 
as was believed, most smoothly. A terrible thunder-clap was in 
store for the undutiful daughter and the man she dared to love. 

On the night appointed, Wentworth was the first to steal down 
to the old chapel with the keys in his hand, He knew that it was 
not altogether creditable to him to preside at a clandestine bridal, 
but he was inclined to run the risk for the sake of his friends. 
Lighting the candles on the altar-piece, he waited in silence which 
was almost awful for the coming of the chief contracting parties. 

In a few minutes John Blount, arm-in-arm with the bridegroom, 
appeared. Oliver Fenton was pale and careworn. 

" Courage !" whispered Blount, and Fenton pressed his hand in 
reply, as a tacit assurance that he was prepared. 

The chapel was partly in darkness, and that portion which was 
illuminated presented a ghastly and funereal appearance, which 
nothing could lighten or dispel. After a few words had been ex- 
changed between the officiating priest and Mr. Blount, a gentle 
step was heard approaching the altar. 

It was Kathleen. Her face wore a solemn look, but its expression 
changed to a softer one of love as she gazed affectionately in her 
lover's face. Her eyes were swollen, and she had to all appearance 
been lately weeping. 

Blount placed Kathleen and Fenton facing one another; they 
stood hand-in-hand; then, by the meagre light, Henry Wentworth 
proceeded to read the forms appointed by the rubric. Hardly had 
he commenced before a noise was heard ; the doors of the chapel 
wore thrown open, and Mr. Warner, followed by Count Soubise and 
a number of servants, rushed in. 



60 TELEGRAPH SECBETS. 

All was consternation and dismay. 

"Undutiful girl!" cried Mr. Warner, seizing her rudely and 
roughly by the arm, " come home instantly. It is lucky that your 
father was sufficiently vigilant to defeat this infamous scheme, to 
the indulgence in which false friends have lured you for their own 
base purposes." 

Kathleen covered her face with her hands and wept. Oliver 
Fenton' s face flushed. 

"It is to be regretted," continued Mr. Warner, "that in this 
country no law is to be found which will allow me to punish the 
miscreants as they deserve." 

" If that remark applies to me, sir," cried Fenton, " I must call 
upon you to retract such intemperate language." 

" I retract nothing," answered Warner, doggedly. 

" The motive by which these people have been actuated," inter- 
posed the Count, coming forward, " is palpable enough ; they know 
the young lady will have money, and they wish to divide the spoil 
between them." 

"Mind what you say, sir!" vociferated John Blount. 

" Oh, it is all true. I am not to be intimidated ; there arc do- 
mestics behind to protect me." 

" Have a care ! Nothing but the sacred edifice in which we stand 
protects you." 

"Violence we anticipated," said the Count, with oily accents, 
" and we are fully prepared." 

" Come along, girl !" said Mr. Warner. 

" Oh, father !" sobbed Kathleen. 

"Come along, I say! I will not have you contaminated by 
further contact with these men." 

"I deny your jurisdiction over the young lady," said Oliver 
Fenton. 

"Oh, you do?" replied Mr. Warner, coolly and sarcastically. 
"Yery well; I will at once have her made a ward in Chancery, 
and then you may call the jurisdiction of the Lord Chancellor in 
question." 

" A ward in Chancery !" 

" Yes ; and when that is accomplished you will find midnight 
work of this sort dangerous ; you may possibly object to kicking 
your heels in prison for a few months." 

He endeavoured to drag Kathleen from the church, but she, ap- 
prehending violence, and being half stupified with fear and faint 
with the shock to which she had just been subjected, refused to 
move, but clung despairingly to the altar-rails. 

" I really must beg of you, sir, to treat Miss Warner with more 
consideration," said Wentworth. 

"Mind your own business, sir!" was the gracious reply. 

" It is any man's business to protect a woman from ill-usage." 

"Stuff and nonsense, sir!" shouted Mr. Warner. "One thing 



TIEE CIA^DESItXX BRIDAL. 61 

I am certain of, and that is, that your business will be elsewhere 
after to-day, for I shall lose no time in sending you about your 
business, whatever ic may chance to be." 

''That, sir, is a remark which, if made by a gentleman, would 
cause me considerable annoyance ; but as it springs from one who 
is so largely impregnated with the plebeian, element, I am compelled 
to overlook it." 

'■ Count !" said Air, Warner. 

"My dear sir, command me,'' replied Soubise. 

"Assist me to take this refractory girl to her chamber. My 
malediction upon her! Here is a pretty scandal for the county V 

""With the utmost pleasure, sir," returned the Count. 

But as he approached and laid his hand upon Kathleen's arm, 
herculean John Blount interposed, saying. " Stand back, man!" 

" Kot for you, " answered the Count, who. though trembling, was 
afraid to withdraw, because his dignity and reputation for courage 
would be compromised. 

Blount, however, cared for nothing, not even the holy place in 
which he was restrained him. Seizing Soubise in a vice-like grasp, 
he by a simple athletic trick cast him over his shoulder, and made 
him "fall heavily in the aisle amongst the servants, who picked him 
up insensible and carried him into the house. 

When Kathleen saw that the man she dreaded above all others 
was absent, she rose to her feet, and presenting her hand to her 
father, told him that she was ready to accompany him. 

Father and daughter were followed by a melancholy trio. Went- 
worth was melancholy because he had received his cong-: ; Oliver 
Fenton was downcast because he feared Kathleen would never be 
his; Blount was depressed at the ill-success of their scheme, but 
he smiled now and then when he thought of the punishment he 
had inflicted upon the Frenchman. 

Kathleen was very carefully looked after, and not permitted to 
leave her chamber except under the charge of two old women, who 
were equal to all the arduous duties of a duenna. Oliver Fenton 
could not obtain a glimpse of her ; he was even unable to convev 
a note into her hands. Mr. Warner acted with promptitude and 
decision; he at once engaged another chaplain, and made imme- 
diate arrangements for the marriage of his daughter with the Count 
Soubise. Fortunately for the lovers, the Count had received injuries 
from his fall which kept him in bed for a week, during which time 
the unhappy Kathleen was respited. 

Fenton was beside himself with rage and mortification. Blount 
was the only one who was at all self-possessed. I, in conjunction 
with others, was soon made acquainted with what had taken place. 
The clandestine bridal was in everybody s mouth, and the county 
r.ewspaper even went so far as to insert a paragraph about "an 
i:. dependent heiress." 

I had almost forgotten Mr, Blount's telegram to the Bue Tanfc- 



62 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

pis, but one day I was agreeably reminded of the fact by receiving 
a reply to it. Mons. Jacques Henrade had evidently returned from 
the provinces. Mr. Blount happened to come in at the time, and 
was delighted to hear of the reply, which was as follows : — 

"From Mons. Jacques Henrade, Paris, to Mr. John Blount, 
Merryvale. — The Count Soubise is soi-disant. I happen to want 
him particularly. Be good enough to keep him in your neighbour- 
hood for twenty-four hours, as I start for England immediately." 

"Hurrah!" was the involuntary exclamation of John Blount; 
" this will do the business effectually. They have stopped us once, 
we will see if we can't return the compliment. It will be our fault3 
if we do not try." 

"What is that, sir?" I asked, guessing what was passing in 
his mind, but simulating ignorance. 

" I'll tell you in a day or two, Mortimer," he replied ; " at present 
I must be off. Don't say a word about this telegram to anyone 
who is likely to carry it to Soubise." 

" I will be as silent as the grave, sir," was my answer. Thanking 
me, he walked away. 

The plot began to thicken. He at once communicated with Fen- 
ton, whose spirits rose at least a hundred per cent. 

"Who is this Jacques Henrade?" he asked. 

"A man I happened to become acquainted with in Paris some 
years ago. I saved his life one night, when he was attacked by a 
gang of coiners, and, like a generous-hearted fellow as he is, he hau 
never forgotten the obligation under which I laid him." 

" Still you do not tell me what he is," urged Fenton. 

" In plain English, he is an inspector of police. I call him my 
pocket Fouche. He knows everyone. His knowledge of the law- 
breaking classes is .simply extraordinary, and shows that his 
memory is marvellously retentive." 

" Having your suspicions of the Count, I presume you thought 
Henrade could dissipate or confirm your doubts ? " 

" Precisely so." 

"Now, having heard your news, allow me to communicate 
mine," said Oliver Fenton. " The Count, who is much better, is 
to be married to-morrow morning at twelve o'clock to Kathleen. I 
was nearly distracted until you came with your ' balm in Gilead.' " 

" Be perfectly easy, for I tell you that the marriage shall never 
take place," replied John Blount. 

An emphatic declaration, with John Blount, was equivalent to 
a prophecy which could not escape fulfilment. Picture a pale and 
trembling girl almost dragged into the church, like a lamb to the 
slaughter; by her side the Count, taciturn but confident, trying to 
look affectionate but failing lamentably. Supporting his daughter 
Mr. Crespigny Warner, whose outward demeanour, though calm 
and placid, was like the skin of the Bussian which when scratched 
reveals the Tartar. Oliver Fenton hung about the outside of the 



THE CLANDESTINE BRIDAL. 



63 



old chapel, anxiously awaiting the appearance of Blount, who had 
gone to the railway- station to look out for Jacques Henrade. The 
anxiety of an eternity of suspense was compressed into those 
few minutes. Oliver Fenton knew that if any accident occurred 
to prevent the arrival of Henrade, his darling Kathleen would be 
wedded to a wretch for whom justice was already clamouring 
aloud with a hundred mouths. It ie no exaggeration to say that 
he would rather have seen her dead than the wife of that man. 

At length Blount and Henrade appeared. Oliver Fenton knew it 
was Henrade by his foreign appearance and his quick, restless 
grey eye, which seemed to comprehend and take in everything at 
a glance. " Quick !" he cried ; " we may even now be too late." 

They advanced quickly to the church door, at which stood a 
servant of Mr. Warner's. 

" Can't enter, sir," said the servant. 
"' We must, my good fellow," exclaimed Blount. 
"Against master's orders, sir, and as much as my place is 
worth to disobey them." 

Taking him by his shoulders, John Blount sent him rolling 
amongst the tombstones. This was what he called the argumentum 
ad hominem, and, to tell the truth, he was rather fond of employing 
it. 

On entering the church, Oliver Penton heard the chaplain say — 
" Will you take this woman to be your wedded wife ? " 
Obeying an irresistible impulse, Penton exclaimed, " I will !" 
All eyes were turned upon him. Mr. Warner became speechless 
with rage. Kathleen uttered a shriek which rang discordantly 
through the old chapel, which assuredly had never before witnessed 
so strange a scene. Oliver Penton's presence, accompanied by that 
of Blount, re-assured Kathleen, who felt that help was at hand. 
She afterwards said that she felt like a prisoner reprieved at the 
foot of the scaffold. Victor Hugo's condemned man did not pass 
more wretched and awful hours than herself prior to the commence- 
ment of the distasteful ceremony, which she regarded with horror, 
such as it is the lot of few damsels to undergo. 

Count Soubise's usually jocund face assumed a deadly pallor as 
he saw Jacques Henrade, who advanced towards him and ex- 
claimed, " Ah ! my playful Alphonse Garre ! — do we meet again, 
and under such auspicious circumstances ? " 
" Devil ! " muttered the Count. 

" If it pleases you, mon enfant, let it be so. I will assume the 
part of his Satanic majesty for your satisfaction ; but I shall be a 
terrible master, and exact most implicit obedience. Come, let us go 
to the realms of — anything but bliss." 

Count Soubise, or Alphonse Garre, put his hand to his pocket, 
Blount noted the action, though it escaped Henrade. 
" What is the meaning of this ? " asked Mr. Warner. 
" It means, sir, that I am about to arrest a swindler and an im- 



64 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

postor. I don't like to use harsh terms to an old friend, but your 
question compels me to speak plainly." 

" An impostor ! — the Count an impostor p " 

" I regret to say so." 

"Impossible!" 

" He is a convict, and will once more make acquaintance with 
the charms of hard labour in conjunction with the galleys." 

With a sudden movement the wretched man drew a knife from 
his pocket, and endeavoured to stab Jacques Henrade. Blount, 
however, was too quick for him, and a deliberate blow from the 
iron fist of this muscular Christian laid him gasping upon the tes- 
selated pavement of the chapel. 

Kathleen fainted in Oliver Fenton's arms, and Mr. "Warner was 
too much perturbed to enter his protest against such a proceeding. 

After a time the Frenchman was securely manacled, and then he 
cast such a viperish, tigerish look upon Henrade that even hardy 
John Blount's flesh bqgan to creep. 

" Oh !" said Jacques Henrade, who noticed the look of repulsion, 
" do not be alarmed. I have drawn his sting, and a dried snake is 
not more harmless than my esteemed and worthy friend, Alphonse 
Garre. Nay, dear Alphonse, do not scowl at me — you will give 
me a nightmare." 

Finding that he had been saved from a great humiliation and 
disgrace, Mr. "Warner acted like a sensible man, and gave his 
daughter to the man of her choice. 

When Oliver Fenton again led her to the altar, it may be safely 
surmised that he did not have recourse to a clandestine bridal. I 
frequently see the happy pair, who look upon me, after John 
Blount, as mainly instrumental in securing their happiness ; but 
it was a long time before I could induce them to allow me to 
publish this " Telegraph Secret." 



V.— WORKING THE NEEDLE. 



This is essentially a tale of a Secret Society. I have put the facts 
together in a collective form, though they only came to my know- 
ledge at different times, and in a disconnected shape. For some 
years after the present Emperor of the French came to the throne, 
and consolidated his empire by the cov/p-d'etdt which has made 
him famous, the Carbonari in London plotted incessantly against 



"W0EK1XG THE NEEDLE. 65 

him. They hungered and thirsted after his blood, and blindly 
thought that by sacrificing him they would secure a happier 
future not only for France but for Italy. That this was a mistaken 
notion, it is not necessary for me to state; the course of events 
sufficiently proves that. When the exiles from their native land 
met together and dilated upon the wrongs of their country, they 
became maddened with insensate rage. The massacre of the Rue 
St. Honore kindled a flame which nothing but the blood of the 
author of the butchery could quench. They read Hugo's satirical 
biography, "Napoleon the Little," with undisguised zest, and 
vowed vengeance upon the prisoner of Ham every day of their 
lives. 

In a small street leading out of one of the principal thorough- 
fares in Soho — that paradise of discontented and exiled patriots, that 
quarter of Leicester Square in which the poverty-stricken braves 
luxuriated — was a broken-down dilapidated house, which afterwards 
became celebrated as the nursery of conspiracy. In this house five 
men were in the habit of meeting. Two were Englishmen, three 
were Frenchmen. Their names were John Proby, Nathaniel 
Simpson, Olivera Arnot, Edouard Maratin, and Dumont Guernan. 

The two first were men of doubtful character. Their antecedents 
would not bear inspection, though it would be a waste of space to 
recapitulate them. They were in the habit of speculating in a 
small way on the Stock Exchange. Arnot, Maratin, and Guernan 
were desperate refugees, and belonged to a secret society, the 
members of which had pledged themselves individually to assas- 
sinate Louis Napoleon. 

Proby and Simpson joined them, not because they had any par- 
ticular hatred for the French Emperor, or cared very much about 
the future of France or Italy. They hoped to make a fortune, and 
in this way : if such an event as the assassination of Napoleon the 
Third took place, they knew that the funds and every description 
of stock would become fearfully depreciated in value on the Stock 
Exchange, and when the expedition which had the death of Napo- 
leon for its object left England, they were prepared to make time* 
bargains for a fall in prices. 

It was a cold, frosty night in the early part of the year. Arnot, 
Maratin, and Guernan were sitting in a room on the ground-floor 
of the house in Soho, and preparing some of those terrible weapons 
known as hand-grenades, the explosive power of which is fraught 
with so much danger to those against whom they are directed. 

" Ha! ha!" cried Olivera Arnot, regarding a shell he had just 
finished with fatherly pleasure. "If this does not accomplish 
the death of a tyrant, there will be little strength in my right 
hand!" 

Going to the table, Maratin filled a wineglass with brandy, and 
holding it aloft, exclaimed, " "Well said, Arnot. Lei us drink to the 
death of the tyrant!" 



tLi.i-.uii.Ai :i fc.fc.CLtL'iS. 



The three conspirators were not slow in responding to the 
toast, which they drank with genuine enthusiasm. 

There was a short, sharp knock at the door. 

" 'Tis our English friends, Messieurs Simpson and Proby," said 
Dumont Guernan. " I will admit them. Be on your guard, however, 
should I be mistaken." 

The men nodded their heads, and Guernan entered the passage, 
opening the door upon the chain. 

" A glorious future!" said a voice without. 

This was the password arranged upon between them, and when 
he heard it Guernan knew that he might safely admit the speaker 
and whoever he had with him. 

Proby and Simpson were ushered into the apartment, which 
had the appearance of an arsenal. 

"We have come to see how you are progressing," exclaimed 
Nathaniel Simpson. 

" Excellently. All the bombs will be complete in another day 
and night," returned Olivera Arnot. 

" And you ?" said Dumont Guernan ; " may we rely upon yonr 
part of the compact being performed ? " 

" Tou may," said Proby ; " that is to say, if you refer to the 
pecuniary part of the programme." 

" That is precisely what I do refer to." 

"Very well. We have with us a sum of money which will 
enable one of you — say Edouard Maratin — to go to Paris, and 
make every inquiry requisite to the successful carrying out of our 
enterprise." 

Edouard Maratin smiled. He approved of being singled out as 
the advance guard. This man was a fanatic, pure and simple. 

" In a week, or whenever you telegraph that you are prepared, 
Arnot shall join you, and a few days afterwards we will despatch 
Guernan to bring up the rear." 

" Admirably arranged ! " said the three Frenchmen in a breath. 

" I think," continued John Proby, " that the bombs had better 
be taken over in one lot. There will be less chance of detection. 
Let them be put in large cigar-boxes, and covered with tobacco ; 
that will throw the custom-house officers off the scent ; but, 
knowing that you gentlemen are fertile in resources, I will leave 
the arrangement of those details to you. In the meantime, here 
are five-and-twenty pounds." 

Proby laid the money in gold upon the table, and carefully 
examined the shells which were already completed. 

" You must at once telegraph to me," added Proby, " the success 
or the failure of your enterprise. Two will be sufficient to cast the 
shells ; let the third be waiting to transmit the result to England. 
Let your message be concise but explicit. 'All is lost,' or 'All 
is gained,' will be amply sufficient." 

" It shall be done as you recommend," replied Arnot. " When 



WORKING THE NEEDLE. 67 

in Paris, we will draw lots to see upon whom the duty of execution 
shall fall." 

" Why not draw them here," said Proby, " and settle the matter 
out of hand ? " 

" I see no objection," responded Maratin. 

Pieces of paper of unequal length were selected by Nathaniel 
Simpson and placed in his left hand, while his back was turned to 
the conspirators. It was arranged that those who drew the two 
longest pieces should be made the assassins, while the third tele- 
graphed the news. The lot fell upon Edouard Maratin and 
Olivera Arnot, who accepted the task with fanatic glee. It was 
easy to perceive that Dumont Guernan was woefully disappointed, 
but he concealed his chagrin as well as he could. 

" I have an amendment to propose," said Guernan. "It is im- 
possible that we should fail. It will be best to send word to you 
half-an-hour before the attack is made, "so that you may have ample 
time to sell your stock. Depend upon it, that as soon as the attempt 
is made, the telegraphic apparatus will be taxed to its utmost by a 
hundred people anxious to send the news all over Europe. Take 
the fact of our success for granted." 

" Listen to me," said Edouard Maratin ; " Guernan is right. We 
will succeed, or perish in the attempt !" 

" In addition to what I have already had the honour to observe," 
continued Guernan, " I wish to say that when I was last in Paris, I 
formed au intimate acquaintance with a young woman who works 
the telegraph in the office in the Eue Lepelletier. She will allow 
me to manipulate, or, in the slang of the trade, ' work the needle.' 
I will at a certain hour, to be hereafter decided upon, take posses- 
sion of this office, and transmit my own message, for I have 
already acquired the requisite skill. I should suggest that Mr. 
Proby, our good and worthy friend, who is one of the fathers of 
our just and holy cause, should make a similar acquaintance in 
London, acquire a knowledge of the art, and by a preconcerted 
arrangement wo can correspond with one another as if we were 
side by side, and our secrets will be our own." 

" Before or after the assassination ? " asked Proby. 

" Say the execution," cried Arnot, correcting him. 

"It is the same thing." 

" Certainly not. We are merely the agents of a higher power." 
The vehemence with which the man uttered this declaration con- 
vinced his hearers that he fully believed the monstrous delusion. 
" Yes," he added, sententiously, " when a man becomes intoxi- 
cated with the blood of the people over whom he has usurped the 
dominion, he proceeds to the perpetration of excesses which call 
down Divine vengeance upon his devoted head." 

The discussion was prolonged until a late hour, when the con- 
spirators separated. 

Proby liked Dumont Guernan's advice so well, that he promptly 



68 TIZLEGltAPU SECRETS. 

J joked out for a. man in the employ of an International Telegraph 
Office, with whom ho could place himself upon friendly terms. 
Oddly enough, he selected me. He waited about the office until 
work for the day was over, and the night hands were arriving, and 
met me coming out. Without hesitation he accosted me, and said 
that he wished particularly to acquire a practical knowledge of 
Telegraphy, and offered me a handsome sum if I would, during my 
leisure moments, instruct him. The office in which I was then 
employed was situated iu Birchin Lane, and so extensive was our 
business, that I had very little spare time on my bands. The money 
bait he threw out was, however, so tempting that I could not 
refuse him ; and being, as the head of the office, to a certain extent 
irresponsible to anyone but the secretary, manager, and directors 
of the Company, I told him he might come at five o'clock every 
day, of which permission he did not scruple to avail himself. His 
aptitude at learning the art was astonishing, and he could soon 
send a message as well as some who had been months in the office ; 
but he threw himself heart and soul into it, which made all the 
difference. 

One day he said, " I find I have a friend in Paris who is engaged 
in the same occupation as myself. We shall be able to talk to one 
another by the aid of this valuable invention, which I cannot 
praise too much." 

" That is an advantage, sir," I replied, " and will help you consi- 
derably in your study." 

I afterwards discovered that he had informed Guernan of his 
success with me, and that the Frenchman used to go every after- 
noon at five o'clock to the office in the Rue Lepelletier, and if tha 
wires were free, correspond with Mr. John Proby. 

There was one thing, however, which Mr. John Proby totally 
forgot, and that was, tliat although I might be a considerable dis- 
tance from the dial, I could by constant practice read every word 
that appeared upon its eloquent surface, as clearly as if I had been 
perusing the freshly-printed pages of a book. On one occasion, I 
saw Mr. Proby, highly respectable old gentleman as I thought 
him, sit down before the dial. He handed me a cigar, and said, 
" Blow a cloud, Mr. Mortimer. It is excellent tobacco, I assure 

I took the cigar, saying something about smoking being against 
the rules, and keeping it until I left. 

Seizing the handle, he flashed a few words along the wires, and 
waited for an answer. It was not long in coming, his friend was 
" working the needle." I had my back to him at the time, but the 
dial was reflected in a glass which stood over the mantel-piece. 
Actuated by a purposeless curiosity, I looked carefully at the reflec- 
tion of the dial, and watched the needle as it revolved to and fro. 
To my surprise, I read: — "The Emperor visits the opera to-morrow 
night at eight. We should have selected that hour and opportunity, 



■WORKING THE NEEDLE. 69 

had we not considered that it would be utterly useless to you; so 
we have postponed the attempt until the next day, when we have 
reliable authority that he will walk in the Tuileries gardens at 
twelve o'clock. Between that hour and one, another tyrant will be 
obliterated from the list of the oppressors of men. You shall hear 
more to-morrow at this hour ; I cannot speak further now, as the 
wire is required. Bemember — twelve o'clock, the day after to- 
morrow." 

He sent a brief reply, and smilingly rose from his seat. 
" I will not take your time up any longer to-day, Mr. Mortimer," 
he exclaimed, smilingly, " as I have an engagement in Lombard 
Street at a half after five, but you will see me as usual to-morrow." 
" Very well, sir," I replied. It was with great difficulty that I 
contrived to restrain my indignant anger. "The scoundrel!" I 
thought to myself, " the unscrupulous old villain ! I never was so 
deceived in my life." 

Our manager, a keen, far-sighted man of the world, was upstairs 
in the board-room, and I determined to lay the matter before him 
without any reserve, and be guided entirely by his judgment. 
Mine was indeed a responsible situation. The late of a mighty 
empire might truly be said to rest in my hands ! 

Mr. Marston, the manager, was very busy when I entered, and 
exclaimed, "Well, Mortimer, what now?" 

" If you please, sir, I wish a few moments' private conversation 
with you." 

" I should be obliged if yon will postpone it till to-morrow. I 
am just arranging the days on which the Directors are to serve 
upon the rota." 

" My business, sir, will not brook a moment's delay." 
" Is it, then, of such pressing importance ?" 
"It is of the utmost urgency," I replied. 

"Come, here, then," said Mr. Marston, kindly; "take a seat by 
my side, and unfold your tale." 

With bated breath he listened to my narration, and starting up, 
exclaimed, "By Jove, Mortimer, yours is wonderful news! The 
purpose of the ruffians is plain enough — to assassinate the only man 
who at present is able to adjust the balance of power in Europe. 
His death would be a universal calamity. The infamous scoundrels ! 
Well, we shall bring them to justice, that is one comfort." 
" What will you do, sir?" 

"Write letters, and summon an extraordinary meeting of the 
Board early to-morrow morning, and place the matter in the hands 
of the Directors." 

" Precisely so. I should suggest that Mr. Proby, as he calls 
himself, be arrested to-morrow." 

" No, that would be too precipitate. You and I will, if the 
Directors sanction the project, start for Paris to-morrow night, and 
do our best to annihilate these hell-hounds !" 



70 TELEGRAPH SECEETS. 

The letters were written and dispatched; the Board met, and 
were astounded at the information we laid before them. The London 
police arranged to look after Mr. Proby and whatever accomplices 
he might have in the metropolis ; and we — that is, Marston and I 
— proceeded to Paris to communicate with the Parisian detectives, 
who had no difficulty in laying their hands upon Messieurs Arnot, 
Maratin, and Guernan, who were tried and found guilty, and are 
now languishing in a prison at Cayenne. 

Nathaniel Simpson and John Proby have also just cause to 
regret " working the needle," for they may be seen any day by the 
curious in such matters, hewing wood and drawing water on that 
sterile tract of land which is known to malefactors and others as 
Portland Island. 

It may be imagined that I was handsomely rewarded for my 
fortunate discovery ; but I was always extremely careful afterwards 
how I allowed old gentlemen having an ultra-respectable appear- 
ance to take practical lessons in Telegraphy, and "work the needle." 



VI.— FORGING THE WILL. 



I believe Northampton is chiefly celebrated for its extensive boot 
and shoe trade ; but while I was residing in the town, it became 
notorious through a singular will case, the clue to which was dis- 
covered mainly through the instrumentality of the electric tele- 
graph. 

Mr. Joshua Maitland was a retired tradesman, possessing great 
wealth ; he had been a grocer and Italian warehouseman. Having 
sold his business, he built himself a house in the middle of a piece 
of land he purchased, and lived there with his only daughter, a 
pretty girl seventeen years of age, who was looked upon by all as 
the most probable inheritor of all her father's property. 

Mr. Maitland had his house managed by a very worthy elderly 
couple, who respectively filled the offices of butler and house- 
keeper. Mr. and Mrs. Matthew Garrison professed unbounded 
respect and veneration for Mr. Maitland, and some discerning 
people went so far as to say that they overdid their parts. Alice 
Maitland was too young and pure and innocent to suspect anyone, 
and she believed the Garrisons to be the most respectable and sin- 
cere couple in the world. Certain it is, that they did all they 
could to serve her in a particular way. 



FORGING THE WILL. 71 

There happened to be a cousin of Alice Maitland's, whom old 
Mr. Joshua most thoroughly disliked and detested ; not that any- 
thing could be urged to the young man's discredit, but Mr. Mait- 
land had been badly treated years before by Henry Baring's father, 
and the sight of the son revived old prejudices, and ripped open 
old wounds that time should have cicatrised, if not healed. 

Henry Baring had the unheard-of audacity to fall in love with 
Alice Maitland, and went so far as to ask her father's consent to 
the match, whereat he flew in a tremendous passion, which nearly 
brought on an attack of apoplexy, and forbade the sighing Borneo 
to enter his house again. Seeking his daughter, he declared, with 
an oath, that if she married Baring he would disinherit her, and 
that then she might shift for herself. 

The Garrisons were in the habit of talking confidentially to 
Alice respecting the hardheartedness of her father. 

" Why, my dear, your father should take such an unconquerable 
dislike to Mr. Baring, I can't conceive," said Mrs. Garrison on 
one occasion. 

This was the text of all her discourses. A drop of water falling 
continuously upon the hardest block of stone will, in the course of 
time, wear a hole in it, and it is easy for people of mature age to 
make an impression on young and susceptible people by per- 
petually dinning the same tale into their ears. 

"Do you think papa will ever change his mind?" Alice would 
ask. 

" I should think he would," Mrs. Garrison would answer, " when 
you are married, to be sure. But, lor ! how stupid I am to talk 
to you like that, and how he would storm and rage at me if he 
heard me talking like that to you !" 

"Never mind, dear Mrs. Garrison; I know you are my friend," 
Alice said, almost tearfully. 

" You may swear to that, my dear young lady." 

" What would you advise me to do ?" 

"It is not for me to take such a liberty as to advise you." 

"Why not?" 

" I might lose my place if your father heard me." 

" I will never breathe a syllable. All I want is some one to tell 
me what to do, for poor Harry loves me so." 

" If you will promise not to tell your father." 

" Yes, yes." 

'■And not to say a word to a living soul, not even Mr. Baring." 

"I promise." 

"Very well, then. Come nearer, and listen to me," said Mrs, 
Garrison. " I should marry him the first time he asks me." 

"And papa?" 

" Say nothing to him." 

" Nothing !" cried Alice. 

" Not a word until it is all over ; then go to him, and if he don't 



72 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

forgive you and make it all right. I'm very much mistaken — that's 
all." 

"Do you think that will be the wisest course?" 

"I am positive it will," rejoined Mrs. Garrison. "But don't do 
it just because I tell you to, my dear; turn it over in your mind, 
and hear what Mr. Baring has to say to you. Ho is a nice, hand- 
some gentleman enough, and anyone might be proud of him for a 
son-in-law." 

"So they might, dear Mrs. Garrison; and do you really think 
him a fine fellow ?" 

" Don't I ! Ask Mr. Garrison how I speak of him. I do believe 
Matthew would be jealous if we weren't such old friends." 

Alice laughed heartily at the idea of the butler being jealous of 
Henry Baring — of her Henry Baring, too ! 

"The fact is, my dear young lady," continued Mrs. Garrison, 
"old men get crotchety. Your father is old, and he has his 
crotchets. Show him you have a will of your own, and I'll lay my 
life he'll admire" your spirit. But while I am standing here talk- 
ing to you, naughty puss that you are, the time is slipping away, 
and I am neglecting all my work. Good-bye, good-bye. I can't 
chatter any more till to-morrow." 

So saying, Mrs. Garrison, with a kindly smile on her lips, 
shuffled away to attend to her work. 

"A dear, good-hearted, kind old creature as ever lived!" was 
Alice Maitland's mental exclamation as the housekeeper disap- 
peared. " I'll think over what she said. Heigho ! what a thing it 
is to have a lover, and like him almost as much as he likes you." 

With a demure look and a heavy sigh the young maiden entered 
the garden, and began to gather flowers, to make a nosegay to 
adorn the dinner-table. 

Somewhat later in the day, Henry Baring met Matthew Gar- 
rison in a shop, and they walked a little way together. 

"Well, Mr. Garrison," said Baring, "how is your young mis- 
tress to-day?" 

" Just about the same as usual, sir." 

" Did she send any message to me ?" 

" Not that I am aware of, sir — at least, she did not make me her 
messenger. Dear me ! what a pity it is master should have such 
a spite against you. Miss Alice and you seem cut out by nature 
for one another, and I'm certain a better-matched couple couldn't 
be found in or out of Nottingham." 

" Thank you, Garrison, for your good wishes ; but I must warn 
you, that I am impervious to flattery," said the young man, with 
a heightened colour. 

They walked on a little while in silence. 

"I wish, sir, I could speak my mind to you." 

"You may do so." 

"I am rather cautious in what I say, because if my words were 



FORGING THE WILL. 73 

repeated to master, I should be discharged, and my place is my 
bread." 

" Quite so. You may, however, rely upon my secresy." 

" That is all I want, sir. Well, this is what I was going to say. 
It is a cruel and crying shame that two young people so well fitted 
for one another as Miss Alice and yourself should be kept asunder 
by what is nothing less than the caprice of an old gentleman." 

" I wish you could alter the caprice." 

" You may, sir." 

"How?'; 

" By taking the bull by the horns." 

"And in what way, pray, is that daring operation to be accom- 
plished ?" 

" Ask Miss Alice, sir, to marry you, without any farther delay ; 
and when she says yes, as she will, take her to church, and make 
her your wife. When Mr. Joshua sees that he can't help it, he 
will make the best of a bad job, and reconcile himself to you as a 
son-in-law." 

" He does not object to me personally," said Henry Baring ; " he 
merely keeps up a silly prejudice he had against my fatjier, which 
is visiting the sins of the fathers upon the children with a ven- 
geance ! You know, Garrison, that I love Miss Maitland most 
passionately, and I will make as good a husband as she is likely 
to find." 

" She knows that, sir, and so I believe does Mr. Joshua himself." 

" I hope so." 

" Take my advice, sir," exclaimed Garrison, " and do as I tell 
you." 

"I'll see about it. In the meantime, accept my thanks for your 
friendly counsel." 

"You're welcome to that, sir, in any quantities, if it is of use to 
you. If you should wish to see Miss Alice at any time, I can 
always tell her you are in the garden; and now, good-bye, sir; 
we had better not be seen too much together." 

Henry Baring was deeply impressed by what had fallen from the 
butler's lips, and was much inclined to act upon the disinterested 
advice he had given him. But was it disinterested ? What reason 
had he to suppose the contrary? It will be remembered, how- 
ever, by the intelligent reader that Mr. and Mrs. Garrison were 
playing into one another's hands in a very singular manner ; they 
appeared to have the same end in view. A very remarkable con- 
versation took place between Mr. Joshua Maitland and his butler 
that very afternoon. 

Said Mr. Maitland dryly, " Matthew, I am going to consult you 
upon a little matter of business." 

" Yes, sir." 

" If you were in my place, what would you do with those young 
people?" 



74 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

"Which young people, sir?" asked Matthew, pretending to be 
ignorant, but knowing perfectly well to whom the remark applied. 

"Why, Miss Alice and her flame, Harry Baring." 

"What would I do, sir?" 

"Yes." 

" Don't you think they are too young to marry, and that Miss 
Maitland, with her prospects, might do so much better ?" 

" Ah ! that's where it is ; she is throwing herself away. Is that 
what you mean, Matthew?" 

" That's it, sir." 

" H'm !" ejaculated Mr. Maitland, reflectively. 

"It's not for me, sir, to make a remark," began Matthew Garri- 
son, humbly. 

" Yes, it is," cried Mr. Maitland, sharply. 

" Then I should say, sir, let them wait a year or two, and see 
what turns up in the meantime." 

"Good advice. Couldn't be better," said Joshua Maitland, 
smiling approvingly. 

" She's very young, sir." 

" So she is." 

" And mayn't know her own mind." 

" Very true." 

" So there's no harm in waiting." 

"Not a bit. I felt a little softened towards them to-day; they've 
been so obedient, and taken my ill-temper with such a good grace. 
If they had flown in my face, and dared to marry against my will 
and without my consent, why, they should have starved ; not a 
penny of mine should they have had — oh, no !" 

When Mr. Maitland said a thing, there was no doubt that he 
meant it; he was a man of iron will, and kept his word at all 
risks and all hazards. 

It is hard to war against one's own kith and kin, but Joshua 
Maitland could do it. It is difficult to shut one's heart against 
the passionate pleadings of an only child, but Joshua Maitland 
was capable of doing so. It is hard to spend the latter years of 
one's life unloved and alone, but Joshua Maitland, when his pride 
and his word were in question, did not fear solitude. 

The young people made up their minds to marry. It would 
have been far better for them had they not done so. They 
little knew the stormy nature of the sea upon which they were 
heedlessly venturing. Henry Baring consoled himself with the 
idea that many men who had achieved distinction in after life had 
married young. Poverty, though it weighed heavily upon them, 
did not prevent them rising in the world. It was even alleged, 
that a warm-hearted and judicious helpmate, with the little 
prattlers at her knee, was an incentive to exertion. 

It could not be wrong to marry, argued Alice, when so expe- 
rienced a man as Garrison, who was so well acquainted with her 



FORGING THE WILL. 75 

father's idiosyncrasies, recommended such a step ; and if Garrison 
and his wife were not her friends, she had none in the wide world. 

Henry Baring and Alice became man and wife ; and when the 
irrevocable step was taken, they sought Mr. Maitland, and in a 
confused and bashful manner made him aware of the fact. His 
rage was awful to witness ; he even went so far as to curse his 
daughter, which so frightened the little innocent, that she fell on 
her knees and begged his forgiveness, but he spurned her from 
him with his foot. 

This treatment of his wife roused Henry Baring's pride. Draw- 
ing his darling towards him, and letting her hide her face upon 
his breast, ho turned fiercely, like a stag at bay, upon Mr. Mait- 
land. 

"If you forget, sir, that this young lady is your daughter," 
he exclaimed, " I do not forget that she is my wife." 

" I at once and for ever sever all ties of kindred," replied Mr. 
Maitland. "'I wish to forget that she was ever related to me." 

"Do so, by all means. You have a right to act as you please; 
but if you are unable to conduct yourself as a father, you should 
at least behave like a gentleman." 

This speech only served to inflame Joshua Maitland's anger to 
a higher pitch, and he drove the young couple out of his house, 
amidst renewed imprecations. 

Time passed on. Henry Baring's pay as a clerk in a bank was 
barely sufficient for the maintenance of his wife and himself, but 
for a year they struggled on bravely, and then a child was born. 
When Mr. Maitland heard of the advent into the world of the in- 
fant, he sent his solicitor to say that he would allow his headstrong 
and refractory daughter a couple of pounds a-week, and with this 
increase of income they got along gaily. 

I frequently met Mr. and Mrs. Baring out walking, and being 
well acquainted with their history, always pitied them from the 
bottom of my heart ; but they looked happy, and I fancied they 
would in a short time enjoy all Mr. Maitland's property, for the 
old man had no one else to leave it to, and it was easy to see that 
he was breaking up fast, and not long for the land of the living. 

At length the peremptory notice which no mortal can disregard 
was given to Joshua Maitland — an apopletic stroke laid him upon 
a bed of sickness. Alice flew to his side, and nursed him tenderly ; 
but though he recognized her, he was unable to speak. Shortly 
afterwards death released him from his sufferings. 

Speculation was rife in the town to know what Joshua Maitland 
had done with the hundred thousand pounds he was popularly 
supposed to possess. The family solicitor announced that he had 
no will in his custody, and Alice was hailed as an heiress, which 
gave undisguised pleasure to everybody. 

The day after the old man's death, however, Mr. and Mrs. Gar- 
rison called upon the solicitor, a Mr. Sparkall, and produced a will 



76 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

to which was attached the signature of Joshua Maitland. Every 
line was regularly executed and delicately traced. It was the 
old man's signature to a nicety. And now for the provisions of 
this will. 

By virtue of this testamentary document, he gave all he was 
seised of at the date of his death to Matthew Garrison and his 
wife, in return for the undivided attention he had received at their 
hands for many years. There was a charge upon the estate of the 
£2 a-week he allowed his daughter, and this sum was to be con- 
tinued during her life. He stated at some length his reason for 
disinheriting his daughter, which was, of course, the old story of 
her disobedience, in marrying a man whom he disliked and had 
forbidden the house. 

So far so good. All was straightforward, and apparently in 
good faith. There were one or two weak points about the will, 
though — notably, the body of it being in Matthew Garrison's 
handwriting. Matthew declared that he wrote at his master's 
dictation, and there was nothing very improbable in this asser- 
tion. Again, the will was witnessed by Garrison and his wife ; 
it was, to say the least of it, odd that no third party should have 
been called in. Mr. Sparkall only lived a few doors off, and Mr. 
Maitland was known to have the utmost confidence in the legal 
acumen and moral worth of that gentleman. 

People went about shaking their heads, and saying that the will 
was a forgery. Mr. Sparkall took counsels' opinion about the 
matter, but the opinion was anything but satisfactory, and 
strongly discountenanced any legal proceedings to set aside the 
will, as the Court of Probate would be most likely to support and 
uphold it. 

Still the people talked, and shook their heads more gravely, 
until Matthew Garrison brought an action against a prominent 
tradesman, and recovered heavy damages. This decisive conduct 
silenced people; but though they talked less, they thought the 
more. 

His sudden accession to wealth unsettled Garrison. He paid 
frequent visits to London, and neglected his wife, who grew 
nervous at being left alone in the house in which her former 
master had lived and died. Mrs. Garrison put up with his neglect 
for some time, but at length solitude became intolerable to her. 
Being on friendly terms with Matthew, I occasionally looked in 
during his absence. One evening I called as usual, not because I 
liked the people, but to see if I could gather any news which would 
be advantageous to Mrs. Baring, whom I regarded as despoiled 
of her inheritance by some mysterious jugglery. She looked very 
ill and haggard. I must mention, that amongst her accomplish- 
ments, which were not numerous, Mrs. Garrison did not number a 
knowledge of the art of writing. I had on former occasions been 
applied to to write her letters, and therefore was not in the least 



FORGING THE WILL. II 

surprised when she asked me to scribble a few lines to her 
husband, then stopping and luxuriating at a colossal hotel in a 
fashionable part of the metropolis. 

" Tell him," she said, " that he must come back or send for me. 
I'm getting that nervous I can't sleep at night, and I'm beginning 
to see ghostes." 

"What?" I exclaimed. 

" Ghostes," she replied. 

" Oh ! I understand. You see ghosts at night." 

" That's it." 

"Anything else?" I asked, having written about the super- 
natural appearances. 

"Say it's 'his' ghost." 

"Whose?" 

"He'll know — underline 'his' — and if some alteration is'n't 
made, I shall go stark, staring, raving mad, and then he must 
take the consequences." 

Having completed the letter, I posted it, and forgot all about the 
matter. The next day it was recalled to my mind by the appear- 
ance of Mrs. Garrison at the railway-station. Coming into my 
office, she sank into a chair, saying — 

" Oh ! Mr. Mortimer— I'm so bad." 

" What's the matter now ? " I asked. 

" Why, the sperits have been worriting my life out, and there's 
no answer from my wretch of a husband." 

" You will probably have one to-morrow. Sufficient time has 
not elapsed yet." 

" I can't wait. Won't the telegraph go quicker ? " 

" Of course it will. Let me see — your husband is staying at the 
Great Western Hotel. Consequently, he will get your message 
almost immediately." 

" Oh ! what a blessed invention ! Get up the steam, or what- 
ever sends the words along, if you please, and tell Matthew I 
must come up to town if he doesn't return at once." 

I sent the message, and, as luck would have it, Mr. Garrison was 
having his lunch at the hotel, and he sent word to the effect, 
that he was too much engaged to be troubled with his wife, and 
that she must mind her own business. This cavalier treatment 
angered her, 

" The cold, calculating wretch !" she said. " Tell him I'll split." 

"About what ?" I asked. 

" Never you mind. Send that, word for word." 

I did so. Mr. Garrison did not appear to be much, concerned at 
what evidently was a threat. He replied in a coarse strain, which 
had the effect of infuriating his wife beyond the power of en- 
durance. 

" Split, and be hanged to you !" was his answer. 

" Oh !" she cried when I read it to her, " what a heartless brute ! 



78 TELEGBAPH SEC11ETS. 

It is he, though, who is more likely to be hanged than I. What 
shall I do?" _ 

My suspicions were aroused by her singular manner, and I 
resolved, in order to get at the truth, to have recourse to a little 
stratagem. Going to the machine, I said — 

" There is another message for you from your husband, Mrs. 
Garrison." 

" Indeed!" said she. 

" Yes. He says that he doesn't care what you do. He starts in 
half-an-heur for the Continent, with all his ready money. You 
may have the house and furniture down here, but you must never 
hope to see him again. He has heard enough about the will in 
Nottingham, and he ia going where no one will know his ante- 
cedents." 

" Then my mind's made up ; I'll stop him !" shouted Mrs. Gar- 
rison. " He shan't go abroad without me. Oh, no ! He's played 
with and made a fool of me long ago, but he does not do it any 
more. The worm will turn when trampled on. Where are the 
police P I will denounce him ! It shall no longer be a secret. My 
life has been a burden and a misery to me ever since Mr. Joshua 
died. Call in the police !" 

I called in the railway policeman, the booking-clerk, the station- 
master, and a porter, and in their presence Mrs. Garrison declared 
the will by which her husband took possession of Mr. Mait- 
land's property to be a rank and impudent forger}^. Having 
induced her to commit herself so far, we took her to the police- 
station, where she repeated her statement on oath. 

" Don't let him escape !" she cried ; " arrest him at once, before 
he can reach the Continent. Go without me, indeed ! I'll teach 
him better than that." 

I smiled inwardly at the success of my stratagem, which was 
more successful than I had hoped. The designing couple, who 
had overreached themselves, were properly punished for their 
crime. Matthew died in prison, and his wife in a workhouse. 
Henry Baring and his much-enduring wife became prominent 
amongst the best and worthiest citizens, and the poor of the town 
have ever had occasion to bless their unexpected accession to 
wealth. 



79 



VII.— A MURDERER AT LARGE. 



Elias Sydmonton was a wool-merchant in a very large way of 
business. No one robbed the sheep of their winter clothing to 
a greater extent than he did; and yet, so unblushing was his 
effrontery, that he had not the slightest objection to look a sheep 
in the face, and was an ardent admirer of mutton. 

Like many other merchants in the city of London, he had 
literally risen from nothing, fie was a married man, and to that 
fact he was in the habit of attributing his prosperity. His mar- 
riage was blessed with two children, both boys ; and these, as 
soon as they were old enough to quit the Blue-coat School, he 
introduced to the business, in order to give them a course of 
practical instruction, and qualify them to be woolstaplers. 

Elias Sydmonton was proud of being a man of the people, and 
was wont after dinner, over a glass of tawny port, to inform his 
guests that he was the architect of his own fortune, and had no 
one but himself to thank for his success in life. 

Those who have any experience of city and mercantile life know 
very well that even the greatest houses may topple to their ruin, 
during a period of monetary jDanie and general convulsion. When 
Elias Sydmonton's prosperity was at its height, the waves of a 
sea of terror flooded the City. Well-known names graced the 
columns of the Gazette, and men looked tremblingly at one an- 
other, wondering who would be the next victim of the insatiable 
demon, whose maw threatened never to be glutted, and whom 
nothing but a holocaust would appease. The house of Sydmon- 
ton and Sons, as it was called, found it impossible to meet its 
engagements. It was confidently believed that bankruptcy was 
inevitable, owing to the quantity of foreign bills which were in 
the market, and which would shortly be presented. 

So low had Sydmonton's credit sunk, that his acceptances were 
openly offered for sale at a depreciation of sixty per cent., and in 
some instances eagerly bought up at that price. If Sydmonton 
could meet his foreign obligations, then he would be able to — in 
City phrase — stand the racket ; if not, he must go to the wall. 

This was the state of affairs on the 20th of April. On the 
1st of May the bills were presentable; ten days intervened be- 
tween the unfortunate man and ruin. Nothing but a miracle 
could save him, and Heaven seldom works miracles now-a-days 
for purblind mortals. There was little chance of his foreign credi- 
tors showing him any mercy; they were sorely pressed them- 
selves ; they were, in the majority of cases, poor and ravenous for 
money. So, on the 25th of &.pril, Elias Sydmonton with a heavy 



80 telegraph; secrets. 

heart took the train from Bishopsgate Station, and went to his 
charming retreat near Broxbourne in Hertfordshire, which he had 
named Marble Hill. He had bought an old ancestral estate from 
a patrician family sadly reduced in circumstances, and compelled 
to go to Brussels to study French and economy. Having a hatred 
of aristocracy and all appertaining to it (many self-made men have, 
we may observe, par parenthese), he pulled down the old house — 
it had seen three centuries and a half — and built a new one replete 
with stucco and ill-placed gothic towers. The soil he did not con- 
sider desecrated by aristocratic feet, and if he had so thought it, 
he would have found it impossible to alter it. So he allowed the 
ground to remain unploughed, and the trees unfelled, but he 
changed the name of the estate from Norman Hall to Mai'ble 
Hill ; though the latter title was selected on the lucus a non prin- 
ciple, for there was not a block of marble within a hundred miles 
or more of it, and the country being a rich flat, there was not the 
semblance of a hill. 

His amiable wife received him with smiles, though her heart 
was heavily laden with apprehension and sorrow. She was inti- 
mately acquainted with her husband's affairs, and she dreaded the 
worst. 

At sis o'clock that evening, I transmitted the following telegram 
from Mr. Sydmonton's confidential clerk to Marble Hill : — " From 
Matthew Tabernacle to Elias Sydmonton. — A gentleman of the 
name of Vellac has arrived from France, and wishes to see you 
on business of the last importance. Shall I send him to you at 
Marble Hill? He will not communicate with me." 

I flashed this brief message along the wires, and in a short time 
the reply arrived. I have always looked upon Telegraphy as more 
or less a game of question and answer, and taken interest in it 
accordingly. Mr. Sydmonton telegraphed in four words — " Send 
Yellac down immediately." 

An hour later M. Vellac arrived at Marble Hill, where he was 
received with the utmost affability and courtesy by Mr. and Mrs. 
Sydmonton. Expressing a wish to speak privately, the lady with- 
drew, accompanied by her sons, and the English merchant and 
the foreigner were alone together. 

Sydmonton was the beau ideal of a bluff Englishman. His frame 
.ras large, but not overburdened with flesh; his manner frank, 
honest, and straightforward. He said what he meant, and meant 
what he said. 

The Frenchman was the exact opposite. He was thin and tall ; 
his eyes were snake-like, restless, and full of cunning; his manner 
was persuasive ; he overwhelmed one with unctuous conversation, 
after the manner of a boa-constrictor, who salivas his victim to be 
able to swallow him with greater ease. In a word, he was as astute 
as the fiend, and as wicked as Cain. His attire was in good, if not 
;,, '-erfe.'-t. taste; be wore a massive watch and a heavv chain, a 



A MTJKDEEER AT LARGE. 81 

diamond of price sparkled on his finger, and he had the outward 
appearance of wealth, if he did not possess the reality. 

All the delicacies of the season which a fastidious fruiterer 
could supply were upon the table. Wine of an excellent vintage 
pleased the eye and tickled the palate. In various parts of the 
room magnificent bronzes were displayed; valuable paintings 
hung on the wall; a Canaletti jostled a Titian, and a florid Ouyp 
looked down upon a stately Joshua Eeynolds. 

M. Vellac glanced at all these evidences of wealth, luxury, and 
refinement, with the eye of a creditor who has a regard for assets. 
Sydmonton was not personally acquainted with his visitor, though 
he fancied he had his name upon his books. 

" Pray make yourself at home, sir," he exclaimed ; " I have not 
the pleasure of your acquaintance, but I have no doubt that we 
have had dealings together." 

"No, Mr. Sydmonton," returned the Frenchman, with a bland 
smile, and in excellent English, " we never had the smallest com- 
mercial transaction in negociation between us." 

" Indeed ! then I must acknowledge myself in error." 

"Allow me to introduce myself— I hope, to your favourable 
notice." 

" Certainly," said Mr. Elias Sydmonton, elevating his eyebrows. 

" I am a merchant at Puy-di-Dome, and also at Bordeaux. Pos- 
sibly I ought to add, in a small way of business." 

"Are you in the wool trade?" inquired Elias Sydmonton, who 
as yet did not see his way, and was wandering in the dark. 

" I am," answered M. Vellac. 

"Have you any claim upon me?" asked the woolstapler, who 
began to be enlightened. 

" I do not wish to assert or enforce any claim, Mr. Sydmonton," 
replied the Frenchman. " I am desirous, if possible, to effect your 
salvation." 

" My salvation, sir !" 

" Precisely. Your embarrassments are no secret either to your 
friends or the public. It is rumoured that you will have consider- 
able difficulty in meeting your numerous continental engage- 
ments." 

" That is perfectly true," said Elias Sydmonton, with a sigh. 

"In point of fact," continued M. Vellac, "your credit on the 
Continent is very much worse than it is here. Neither Lafitte, 
Eothschild, or Perine would touch your paper at any price." 

" The times are precarious." 

" They are. Now, although you may not be aware of the fact, I 
have bills of yours in my pocket to the value of one hundred thou- 
sand pounds I" 

"Eh!" cried Mr. Sydmonton, starting from his chair in the 
Utmost surprise; " God bless mc !" 

" If you doubt my veracity, I can easily convince you," continued 



82 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

the Frenchman, touching his coat, as if he were about to produce 
some documents. 

" Not at all," interrupted Mr. Sydmonton. " I am quite content 
to take your word. You must excuse my agitation. Your in- 
telligence, I must confess, startled me." 

"It would have been surprising had it not done so," said M. 
Vellac, calmly. "I am one of your largest creditors." 

" The largest, my dear sir — the largest." 

"Let it be so." 

"May I inquire how the bills came into your hands ?" 

" That is a vnatter of no importance. In the way of trade we 
have bills of every description." 

" I thought you might have bought them at a depreciation." 

" We will not go into that," said M. Vellac. " Suffice it for the 
present, that I am the absolute bond fide holder for value of these 
bills, representing, as I had the honour of telling you before, the 
enormous total of one hundred thousand pounds." 

"Very well," murmured Mr. Sydmonton, resignedly. 

" You will perceive that I am an important creditor." 

" You are, indeed." 

"These bills will arrive at maturity in a week." 

"They will." 

"Are you in a position to meet them, and take them up?" in- 
quired M. Vellac. 

" Frankly, no. I will not seek to conceal my position, or disguise 
my prospects, M. Vellac," exclaimed Elias Sydmonton, with that 
innate candour which had always distinguished him. 

The Frenchman nodded his head, as if in appreciation of this 
sentiment. 

" I cannot by any possibility take up these bills ; it is utterly 
out of my power. I must therefore throw myself upon your 
clemency, and entreat your indulgence. If you withhold it, I shall 
be most reluctantly compelled to file my petition." 

" Hem !" said M. Vellac, as if considering the position in a new 
light, "there is such a thing as reckless trading; and your Com- 
missioners in Bankruptcy might be inclined to dwell upon the fact 
of the foreign market being flooded with paper at a time when the 
utmost caution should have been exercised." 

" Of all that I must run the risk," said Sydmonton; "but you 
must permit me to observe, that three months ago it was impossi- 
ble to foresee the present state of things." 

" There we join issue. However, I have not journeyed all the 
way from Puy-di-Dome to fill you with vague fears, or overwhelm 
you with reproaches ; far from it. Let me ask you a question. 
Can you meet your obligations in England?" 

"I reply unhesitatingly in the affirmative," said Elias Sydmon- 
ton, looking up with a sort of joyful wonder, as if he fancied an 
unlooked-for deliverance was at hand. 



A MURDERER AT LARGE. 83 

" You would of course give mucli to be saved from bankruptcy, 
disgrace, and ruin ?" continued M. Vellac, with a viperish glance, 
which passed unnoticed by the unsuspecting merchant. 

" If you only knew how much 

" I can guess, without much difficulty. To-morrow morning I 
will, with your permission, go over your books, and if my inspec- 
tion is satisfactory, I will offer you a means out of your present 
danger." 

" You will ? Generous stranger !" cried Mr. Sydmonton ; " how 
can I find words to express my thanks ?" 

" Wait," replied M. Vellac ; " check your impulsiveness. You 
have not yet heard my terms, nor do I know that you will accede 
to them." 

Mr. Sydmonton offered his friend a bed, which was refused. 
M. Vellac took his departure as soon as his business was concluded, 
promising to be at the merchant's office in Great St. Helen's at 
ten o'clock the next morning. 

During the whole of that night Elias Sydmonton lay awake, 
pondering the extraordinary visit of the mysterious foreigner in 
his mind. It was very strange. What were the terms he was 
about to propose ? Whatever they were, he was disposed to accept 
them, because his position was so desperate that, like a drowning 
man floating by a straw, he could not despise the most fragile 
support which offered itself. 

The next day the woolstapler went early to town, and made 
inquiries at several foreign houses where he was known respecting 
M. Vellac, merchant, of Puy-di-Dome and Bordeaux; but, oddly 
enough, no one seemed to know him, or to have ever had any 
dealings with him. 

At the appointed time M. Vellac arrived, and after addressing a 
few commonplace remarks to Matthew Tabernacle, was ushered 
into the inner office where Sydmonton was awaiting him. 

" Good morning, sir. You are punctual, I perceive," exclaimed 
Sydmonton, listening to the bell of a neighbouring church which 
was chiming the early hour of ten. 

" In matters of business it is absolutely necessary to be so," 
responded Vellac. "I once lost an appointment worth many 
thousand francs a-year through being five minutes behind time ; 
that was a valuable lesson to me." 

" So I should apprehend. Pray be seated, sir. My clerk will 
bring in the books at once, if you wish it, and will attend to answer 
any question you may wish to put to him." 

The Frenchman signified that that was what he wished. Ac- 
cordingly, Matthew Tabernacle, obeying a command of his master, 
laid a statement of Mr. Sydmonton's affairs before him. In an 
hour's time he was au fait with the situation, and said, " That will 
do, thank you. There is nothing more that I want to know." 

"Are you perfectly satisfied?" inquired Elias. 



84 TELEGEAM SECKET8. 

" Quite," replied Vellac. 

" You can go, Tabernacle. Yet, stay ; is there any news this 
morning?" 

"I am sorry to say, sir, that the great house of Copplestone, 
Beddow, and Martin, has ' gone.' We lose ten thousand pounds 
by them," answered the clerk. 

" Dear me ! this is terrible, terrible !" exclaimed Sydmonton. 

M. Vellac smiled grimly. These successive crashes in the com- 
mercial empire seemed to please him. 

When the clerk had quitted the apartment, M. Vellac crossed 
his legs, and assuming a business-like air, said, "Your difficulties 
are serious, my dear Mr. Sydmonton, but with a little support you 
will get over them." 

" Support ! oh, yes !" replied the merchant, catching eagerly at 
the word. 

" You want bolstering up." 

"Who will do it?" 

" No one, unless he has an interest in the concern." 

"An interest!" replied Elias Sydmonton; "of what nature?" 

" Of course, a direct interest." 

"Such as " 

" Such as a — shall we say, a partnership ?" rejoined M. Vellac, 
with the most perfect unconcern that so thorough a man of the 
world as himself could assume. 

Mr. Sydmonton breathed heavily. The designs of his foreign 
acquaintance were now unveiled ; it was evident that he wished 
to insinuate himself as a partner into the house of Sydmonton, 
and, on consideration, his proposal did not appear so utterly un- 
reasonable ; he was prepared to save the house which was tottering. 

"Allow me to look at the bills of which you spoke," said Syd- 
monton. 

" With pleasure." 

He took a portfolio from a small parcel he carried in his hand, 
and gave it to the merchant, who hastily turned over its contents, 
with hurried comments of this description — "Yes, quite right; I 
drew upon Valise, Jacques, and Co., at three months — very accu- 
rate. Mires and Co., Parquet Durand — yes, yes. So, sir," he 
added, " if I understand you rightly, you wish me to admit you 
as a partner in my business, provided you throw these obligations 
into the concern. Is that so?" 

,: I will do more than that ; I will put vitality into it by the aid 
of money. Listen to me." 

Elias put himself in an attitude of attention, while Vellac went 
into a lengthy exposition of his affairs. He stipulated that Mr. 
Sydmonton's two sons, who already had small shares in the busi- 
ness, should be retained, and that he should manage the foreign 
trade, while Elias, as before, undertook the conduct of the English 
business. After some consideration, Elias agreed to accept these 



A MURDERER, AT LARGE. 85 

terms. A deed of partnership was drawn up by a competent and 
experienced solicitor, and the name of the house was altered to 
Sydmonton, Sons, and Vellac, an arrangement which did not 
create much surprise in the commercial world, the members of 
which applauded Elias for his shrewdness in taking in a moneyed 
partner at a time of panic. 

It subsequently came to Elias's knowledge that Vellac had 
bought up the mass of bills bearing his name for a very small 
sum of money, by the outlay, in fact, of only a few thousands. 
The result of the amalgamation did credit to his penetration ; the 
business of the house almost doubled itself, and when the profits 
at the end of the half-year came to be divided, it was found that 
the partners were making an income of twenty thousand a-year. 
The business developed itself in a magnificent way; after the dis- 
astrous storm came a prosperous calm ; but Vellac was not satis- 
fied. The demon of gain took possession of him; the fiends of 
greed and cupidity entered into his soul, and he longed to acquire 
the whole of the trade. 

Twelve months elapsed. Vellac was very little on this side of 
the channel. He travelled from one place to another on the Con- 
tinent in the interests of the firm, and did much good. At Christ- 
mas he accepted an invitation to Marble Hill, and then the hand 
of the ruthless destroyer began to be busy. 

Elias Sydmonton's eldest son Robert was now a fine fellow, a 
thorough man of business, and the pride and delight of his father. 
Robert Sydmonton and Vellac were inseparable companions ; they 
rode together, shot, skated, walked, played billiards, smoked 
together. The young man was fascinated by what he thought the 
brilliant qualities of his friend, and admired him with all the 
ardour of impulsive youth. 

The winter was a hard one. Frost and snow were the order of 
the day^ a large lake on the Marble Hill estate was frozen over, 
and Robert was at home upon the ice. His brother Ernest was of 
a more timid and retiring disposition, and he preferred reading in 
the library to indulging in the rude field-sports in which his more 
robust relative found endless enjoyment. 

One day, Vellac and Robert went out as usual to skate. Some 
labourers on the estate looked on wonderingly at their really 
clever and scientific evolutions. Suddenly the ice broke, and 
both were immersed in the chilly water. Robert sank, and the 
bystanders declared that Vellac did nothing to save him. One 
man, not having the fear of his superiors before his eyes, said 
openly that Vellac, when Robert Sydmonton rose to the surface, 
placed his hands on his shoulders, and by this act gave old 
Charon a soul to ferry over the Styx, for the unhappy youth was 
never seen alive again. 

The loss of his eldest son was a great blow to Elias. The event 
also preyed upon Mrs. Sydmonton, who shared her husband's 



86 TKWSGitAPil SECUEIS. 

grief. Vellac, of course, was profuse in his condolences ; ho 
deplored the accident loudly, and, in spite of the injurious 
rumours afloat respecting him, Mr. and Mrs. Sydmonton believed 
him to be their friend, and were thankful for his sympathy. Only 
a bereaved father can tell the grief which the loss of a much- 
beloved and promising son occasions ; but those who have been 
chastened by the destroying angel can spare a tear of pity for Elias, 
who had lost the child of his age. 

• ,On the day which succeeded this melancholy event, the following 
telegram passed through my hands, though at that time I had but 
a poor idea of its startling significance : — 

" Dearest Amelie — I have the extreme pleasure of informing you 
that one of the three branches appertaining to the old tree has 
been successfully lopped off. Ever yours, Auguste. I kiss your 
hands." This was sent by Auguste Vellac to Madame Amelie 
Vellac, Eue Chateaubriand, Champs Elysees, Paris. 

The name of Vellac being a singular one, it lingered in my 
memory, and when receiving the message from the bearer of it, I 
took the liberty of indulging in so comprehensive and impertinent 
a look, that his remarkable features were indelibly engraven on 
my memory. 

Months flew along, and Sydmonton, Son, and Vellac continued 
to prosper. The business extended itself, and its ramifications 
were too numerous to mention ; but while his material prosperity 
was on the increase, his domestic felicity continued to decline. 
Ernest, his surviving son, fell into a state of ill-health. The most 
experienced physicians were called in, but their prescriptions were 
of no avail. It was suggested that he studied too much, and that 
he ought to travel, as the best means of affording relaxation to his 
mind. He was sent to the South of Erance, under the care of his 
father's dear friend, M. Vellac ; but, strange to say, the poor fellow 
only grew worse, and at last it was feared that he would fall a 
victim to that fell disease and invincible scourge of our island, 
consumption. 

Mr. Sydmonton happened to know a captain in the navy, who 
had the command of one of Her Majesty's ships which was under 
orders for the Mediterranean. Captain Powell, knowing that 
Ernest was in a decline, offered to take him for a cruise, and the 
offer was cheerfully accepted, though it was much opposed by 
Vellac, who wished the boy to stop at home. When he returned 
after three months' absence, he was very much better. The 
peculiar climate in which he had been had acted favourably upon 
his constitution, and his mother and father began to hope. His 
health, however, did not last long — to come in contact with Vellac 
was, for him at least, to lie under the deadly influence of the upas- 
tree. 

At length he died. Under this infliction his mother utterly 
broke down. She was unable to support the weight of this super- 



A HUKDERER AT LARGE. 87 

lative catastrophe. As before, the Frenchman entered into their 
sorrow, as if he had himself lost a dearly-prized relative. The 
brothers were buried side by side. Again the telegraph was put 
in requisition ; M. Vellac communicated with Mme. Amelie, and 
repeated the former telegram with a slight variation. This time 
he said, " A second branch has fallen from the old tree ; but one 



now remains 



Although Mrs. Sydmonton had everything around her that 
money could command, she was unable to rise superior to the 
shock which convulsed her system. Her husband — always fond 
and devoted, trebly so now that she was bowed down and afflicted 
— did all that lay in his power to alleviate her distress. He, too, 
was acquainted with sorrow, and in no small degree. Since his 
acquaintance with Vellac he had been singularly fortunate in busi- 
ness, but a blight seemed to have fallen upon his home life, than 
which nothing is more precious to a domesticated Englishman. 
His calamities were not yet over. His second son had not rested 
six months in his grave before Mrs. Sydmonton followed him to 
the tomb. He was now alone in the world; he had no friend with 
the exception of Vellac, whom he would have trusted with his soul, 
so great was his confidence in him. 

The day after Mrs. Sydmonton's death, I forwarded a third 
telegram from Vellac to Madame Amelie. It was more strikingly 
significant than either of those which had preceded it : — 

" The third blow has been struck : — the tree is now naked. Its 
branchless trunk alone stands between us and gigantic opulence. 
Trust in me. Soon all will be ours !" 

I have often regretted that the knowledge which is now mine 
was at that time denied me, for I might have saved the life of a 
good and excellent man. 

About this time, I was instrumental in telegraphing a most 
extraordinary message to Mr. Sydmonton ; it purported to come 
from an English gentleman, named Owen Metcalfe, residing at 
Nice, and was as follows : — " Dear Friend — Do not think me 
childish, but I had a remarkable dream last night, in which 
you were the principal actor. I fancied that you were visiting a 
vault in some churchyard, and weeping bitterly over a coffin. 
"While thus engaged, a man of slender build, tall, and well attired, 
came up to you, knocked you on the head with just sufficient 
violence to stun you, and then forced the contents of a bottle of 
laudanum, or some dark-looking fluid, down your throat. Having 
accomplished his purpose, he decamped, leaving you dead or dying. 
For Heaven's sake be careful, and if you meditate a visit to a 
churchyard, forego it, if only to humour my prejudice and super- 
stition." 

Owen Metcalfe was a friend of Sydmonton's, and of long 
standing. The warning reached him in due course, but he did not 
attach any importance to it. On arriving at his office, he handed 



88 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

the lengthy telegram to Vellac, who read it carefully, and ex- 
claimed, with a laugh — 

" Your friend's mind is a little distempered. I should think he 
must have been reading the ' Night Side of Nature.' " 

" I cannot help laughing," said Mr. Sydmonton, " but—" 

"What?" asked Vellac. 

" There is something very singular about his warning." 

" What is it ? — that your friend is out of Bedlam ?" 

" Oh dear, no." 

" Will you enlighten me ?" 

" I mean to do so. You are my friend, and will not ridicule my 
confidence." 

"I would rather perish," said M. Vellac, laying his hand on his 
heart with a threatrical gesture. 

" I know it ; ^accept my thanks. I doubt whether one man ever 
owed more to another than I to you." 

" Oh ! you flatter." 

" Not in the least." 

" What is there peculiar about this warning from Nice P" 

" Simply this," said Sydmonton : " I proposed to-morrow going 
to Kensal Green, where my poor boys and their sainted mother 
are buried." Here he passed the back of his hand over his eyes, 
the least suspicion of a tear having appeared in both. " That 
vault contains all that I loved on earth." 

" This does you credit, my dear friend," cried Vellac, wringing 
his hand warmly. " You have a heart, which is a scarce com- 
modity in these days." 

" Ah ! I have had some severe trials." 

"You have; but you will have your reward," said Vellac, in the 
canting tone of a Jhypocrite. " Shall you go ?" he added, carelessly. 

" Decidedly. I am not superstitious, and I attach no importance 
to Metcalfe's dream. Still, you must confess that it is strange." 

" A coincidence — that is all." 

"You will go with me, Vellac?" exclaimed Elias Sydmonton. 

" Let me see — to-morrow ; did you say to-morrow ?" 

"I did." 

" What have I to do to-morrow ? Ah ! by the way, I must 
superintend the lading of that ship for the Brazils. Then Sherard, 
the banker, is coming up from Leytonstone respecting the 
Egyptian loan. No, my friend, I am afraid I must sacrifice amity 
at the shrine of commerce." 

" Ever busy ; how indefatigable you are, Vellac. I believe I owe 
my present prosperity to your restless industry." 

" No, no ; you are too good ; you must not put yourself so far 
in the background. All I can say is, that my poor efforts in the 
right direction have fortunately been crowned with success." 

"Are you sure that you will be unable to accompany me to- 
morrow ?" queried the merchant. 



A MURDERER AT LARGE. 89 

" I regret to say, I shall be unable to do so, unless you insist " 

"By no means. If you were in my place, would you go ?" 

" To be sure I should. Never encourage a weak mind"; let men- 
tal strength soar above physical weakness at all times." 

" You are right, and counsel well. Your advice shall be taken. 
What have I to fear? Who would attack me in a large cemetery 
in the middle of the day ? You know the vault ?" 

" I remember it indifferently well," replied M. Vellac. 

" It is a gloomy place, but there are always people about and 
within call. Oh, yes — I'll go, I'll go." 

" That's right — that's a spirit I like to see. I should recommend 
you to encourage and foster that spirit." 

" I will; you recall me to myself, and make a man of me again. 
To tell the truth, Vellac, my spirit yearns after my poor wife, and 
when you and the world think me far differently employed, I — I 
steal down to the graveyard, and weep over her coffin. I know it 
well — it is stained with my tears. This is a weakness ; but tell 
me, Vellac, whether it be an amiable weakness or the contrary ?" 

" The contrary — I should say the contrary," returned Vellac. 

"And why?" 

" Because — because it seems like rebelling against the decrees 
of the Supreme Power. We should be humble and submissive, 
you know ; we should not repine ; that is wrong — decidedly wrong." 

"To weep over one's wife's grave is wrong!" said Sydmonton, 
musingly. 

" Can there be a doubt about it?" 

"I don't know, I'll think more on it; but — I'll go to-morrow." 

M. Vellac remained at the office the next day until Elias Syd- 
monton left it ; then he, too, quitted it on the pretext of attending 
to some pressing business. 

Mr. Sydmonton went in a hansom cab to the cemetery, and 
walked sadly along the neatly gravelled walks to the place where 
the tomb he was in quest of was situated. A walk through a 
cemetery — eloquent city of the dead ! — is at all times depressing 
to the spirits ; but to him it was doubly so. 

He had a key which gave him admittance to the vault. He 
entered without being observed, and in order to introduce more 
light into the funereal chamber, left the door partly open. A damp, 
mouldy smell assailed the nostrils, and a silence awfully oppressive 
reigned, undisturbed by the slightest sound. 

Three coffins placed one above another brought him to a stand- 
still. One contained the mortal remains of Robert Sydmonton, 
the second of Ernest, and the third and uppermost one, of their 
mother. Faintly the tolling of a chapel bell stole into the vault 
on the wings of the sluggish wind. Sinking on his knees, Elias 
Sydmonton thought of his wife — of his offspring — all snatched 
from him when he had most need of their loved presence; and 
was it wonder his tears fell thick and fast ? 



90 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

Suddenly a dark shadow obscured the door of the vault. Syd- 
monton was too much engrossed and wrapped up in his medita- 
tions to notice the decrease of light, nor did he hear a gentle foot- 
fall, as a man crept up to him with all the stealthiness of a snake. 
Elias was speaking in a subdued tone; he said — -"Louise! — • 
darling Louise ! if you are permitted to hear my voice, receive my 
assurance that your memory is as dearly cherished by me now, as 
was your loved self when on earth." 

Those were the last words spoken by the merchant of Great St. 
Helen's. The shadow behind him caused something to rush 
through the air with a heavy "thud" upon his head; then — just 
as Owen Metcalfe had seen in his mystic dream, many hundred 
miles away from the scene of action — the shadow forced the con- 
tents of a phial down Elias Sydmonton's throat, and having ac- 
complished his nefarious purpose, vanished from the vault. 

No eye save that of Heaven witnessed the commission of this 
horrid crime ; but the Nemesis which is always on the track of 
the evil-doer attended his footsteps from the first. Skilful as was 
the assault on Mr. Sydmonton, it was marked by one error — 
nay, by two : — the assassin had, in his hurry, dropped the weapon 
with which he stunned his prey, and carelessly threw away the 
phial when it had answered his purpose. "When the body was 
found, these things were discovered and placed in the hands of 
the police, whose directions from head-quarters were to find out 
by whom they had been purchased, and to whom they had belonged. 

On the afternoon of this most foul and unnatural murder, M. 
Vellac, smiling in his peculiar fashion, came into the telegraph 
office, and sent the fourth of a series of messages. It was directed, 
as had been the former ones, to Mme. Amelie, at Paris, and was 
concise and somewhat epigrammatic : — " The branchless tree has 
fallen — all is ours. In one week let me see you in London." 

On the following day, a detective whom I knew came into the 
office, and nodding to me, drew me on one side, saying, " Dreadful 
affair this, Mortimer !" 

" To what do you allude ?" I inquired. 

" Haven't you heard P Why, I thought it was all over London 
by this time. I mean the Kensal Green murder — the murder in 
the vault — don't you know ?" 

" Up to the present time I have heard nothing." 

" I can tell you, then, as much as anyone, for I have the conduct 
of the case." 

" I shall be glad to listen to you, Drake," I said. " Do you want 
to put the wires in motion ?" 

" Presently," replied Drake ; " I will have five minutes' chat 
with you first." 

" Who is the murdered man P" 

" Rather a celebrity about here ; a merchant of St. Helen's — 
name of Sydmonton." 



A MUBDEREB AT LARGE. 91 

"Indeed! I know him well by name; went into partnership 
with a Frenchman, I think." 

" Yes, Vellac." 

"Ah! that's the name ; he sent a telegram yesterday." 

" Where to ?" eagerly inquired the detective. 

" To Paris." 

"Can I see it?" 

" If you wish it. I have for many years past made it a practice 
to enter all striking telegrams in a book ; I have found it useful 
in many ways. I have the book in the next room, and you can 
glance over its pages if you like. But go on about the murder ; 
you have excited my curiosity, and are in duty bound to gratify it." 

"Sydmonton," began Drake, "went to Kensal Green to visit 
the vault in which his wife and two children repose ; while there 
he was brutally murdered. There you have it all in brief." 

"Have you no clue?" 

" If I tell you anything, I speak in perfect confidence." 

" Certainly," I replied. 

We had not yet entered my private office, but were standing 
near the door giving admittance from the street, so that anyone 
having a wish to listen to our remarks could do so ; but as there 
was no one about, we did not attach any importance to this cir- 
cumstance. 

" I ask you to keep anything I may say a secret, because if these 
things get into the newspapers, the man we want is on his guard 
in a moment." 

" Oh, yes ; I understand that fully." 

" Well, I fancy that I can prove that the phial found in the vault 
was purchased by Vellac in the City Eoad ; and if I am not much 
mistaken, the loaded stick with which the deed was done was also 
Vellac's property. Wait awhile, and I will astonish people. I am 
about to telegraph to the principal ports in the kingdom, so that 
the police may be on their guard, and having stopped my bird's 
outlets, I will proceed to snare him." 

During these remarks, I had heard the door open, but so in- 
terested was I in Drake's recital, that I paid no attention to the 
new-comer. When he had finished speaking I looked up, and saw 
a tall man making his way out of the office. 

" There ! — look there !" I cried, addressing Drake, and pointing 
with outstretched hand to the retreating figure. 

"Where? — what?" asked Drake. 

"You see that man?" 

"Yes; what of him?" 

" If that isn't Vellac himself, I'll never offer an opinion again 
about any man's identity." 

" Vellac ! How long has he been here ?" 

" I really don't know ; perhaps about two minutes." 

"Time enough to overhear all my remarks. Confound it! I 



92 TELEGKAPH SECBETS. : 

would rather have forfeited five sovereigns than this should have 
happened." 

Mollifying the detective as well as I could, I brought out the 
book, and allowed him to look at it. The messages I have quoted 
attracted his attention, and he exclaimed loudly, " I believe he has 
murdered the whole family !" 

"What could his object be in bringing about such wholesale 
slaughter?" 

" Money, of course." 

" But he had it." 

" Possibly ; but the more some folks have, the more they want. 
It is in the nature of mankind never to be satisfied with what we 
have, but always to wish for something in excess." 

" What a villain !" I ejaculated. 

" You may well say that. Here is my telegram, and on this 
piece of paper are the towns to which I wish it to be sent ; des- 
patch it at once, will you ? Very awkward, the man coming in at 
the time I was disclosing my plans to you. Who'd have thought 
it?" 

" No one. It was one of those fortuitous occurrences which it 
is almost impossible to guard against." 

Events began to multiply themselves : that afternoon Vellac 
turned everything that was susceptible of such treatment into 
money, and left London. Matthew Tabernacle was left in charge 
of the business, but he had no idea where his master had gone. 

Three days passed. On the morning of the fourth, Drake came 
to me, and said, " I suppose you know Vellac has levanted ?" 

" So I have been told ; that proves that he must have overheard 
us." 

" No doubt. You know him well, I believe. Now, although I 
have a pretty accurate description of him, I am not sure that I 
should know him by sight. So I want you to come with me to 
three or four places where he is likely to be, so that if I effect a 
capture, there may be no mistake about it." 

" I will telegraph to the chief office, and ask the manager if 1 
can be spared," I replied. 

Going to a machine, I asked the young lady who was working it 
if it was disengaged. 

"It will be directly, sir," she replied. "I am just finishing a 
message from Paris, which has to go to Richmond. 

"From Paris!" I said. 

"Yes, sir." 

"Who is the sender?" 

" It is from Amelie to Auguste — that is all." 

" Bravo !" I cried, unable to restrain my exultation. 

"What's the matter?" inquired Drake, coming to my side. 

" Wait a bit, and you shall see," I replied. 

"Don't be more mysterious than you can help." 



A MURDERER AT LARGE. 93 

" Be good enough to hand me a copy of that telegram," I said 
to the operator. 

She did so, and holding it up, I read — " Dear Auguste, I have 
received your second message, and will at once come to you at the 
hotel you mention in Eichmond. I am sorry affairs have taken 
so bad a turn." 

Drake rubbed his hands together in uncontrollable glee. 

"That's your sort!" he exclaimed. "That's what I call luck, 
and no blooming error about it ! Vellac's in Eichmond." 

" And we shall have him." 

" Without the shadow of a doubt. Bravo, Eouse !" 

Through this accident we obtained a clue to Vellac's where- 
abouts, and paid him an unexpected visit that evening. We found 
him smoking a cigar after dinner, and drinking wine of a most 
expensive description. Having told the proprietor of the hotel 
our object, we were allowed to walk into his apartment un- 
announced. 

"Who are you?" cried M. Vellac, with a start. 

" We belong to the A Division of the Metropolitan Police, Mr. 
Vellac, and have a warrant for your arrest." 

"My — my arrest?" he stammered. 

" Yes," replied Drake, exhibiting a pair of handcuffs. 

With a rapid movement Vellac gained a sideboard, on which, in 
a case of rosewood lined with dark-coloured velvet, lay a revolver. 
Placing it to his head, he said, in a tone of concentrated fury, 
" This shall disappoint you !" 

I made a bound over a couple of chairs to frustrate his suicidal 
intention ; but although I contrived to touch his arm as the pistol 
exploded, I was unable to prevent the infliction upon himself of a 
terrible and mortal wound. He fell covered with blood. His ex- 
istence after that moment was merely a matter of calculation. 

The next day Amelie arrived. She was a dashing, handsome, 
superbly-dressed Frenchwoman. I arrogated to myself the task 
of speaking to her. 

" Is Monsieur Vellac here P" she asked. 

" He is, niadame," I replied. 

" Announce me, and show me his rooms." 

" He is dying, madame." 

"Dying!" she ejaculated, turning pale, in spite of the rouge on 
her cheeks. 

"Yes, madame, he has attempted to blow his brains out, to 
avoid falling into the hands of the police, who were about to arrest 
him ; but he is still sensible, should Madame wish to speak to him." 

" No, it is not necessary. He has my best wishes," she returned, 
with a callous coldness that was disgusting. 

Getting into the fly that had brought her from the railway- 
station, she went away as unconcerned as if nothing whatever had 
happened. 



94 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

Vellac lingered four-and-twenty hours. Many, many times ho 
muttered — "Amelie, Amelie! Oh, Heaven! why doe3 she not 
come ? It was all for her — all, all ! She lured me on to ruin and 
perdition. If I could but see her ! Amelie ! Amelie ! one word — 
one word before I die !" 

In pity to a dying man, we spared him the knowledge of 
Amelie's heartlessness, and he died with her name on his lips. 

"Amelie! Amelie!" was his incessant cry. Oh! it was pitiful to 
hoar him. 

When all was over, Drake led me from the room, and said, " We 
have to thank the Telegraph for helping us to rid society of a 
ruffian." 

" Yes," I replied, abstractedly. 

I was thinking of the Sydmontons — dead and gone ; of Vellac — 
justly punished; and — shall I say it? — of Amelie, beautiful as an 
angel, but wicked as a very fiend. 



VIII.— A RUN ON THE BANK. 



Some years ago, John Westland traded as a banker in the City of 
London, under the title and name of Westland Brothers. This 
was the original designation of the bank, and had been handed 
down pure and undefiled for at least a century. 

His managing clerk rejoiced in the euphonious cognomen of 
Lyons. Nothing pleased Arthur Lyons better than an invitation 
to his employer's country-house. Shrewd observers said that 
the mere matter of a dinner and an agreeable evening were 
scarcely sufficient to tempt the manager as far as Norwood, which 
was not then, as now, an accessible suburb. These shrewd ob- 
servers hinted that John Westland's pretty daughter possessed 
a magnetic power of attraction which was irresistible. Arthur 
Lyons, although holding a responsible position, was only thirty 
years of age, and sufficiently susceptible to be enchained by the 
charms of a pretty woman. 

In addition to her beauty, Miss Agnes Westland had another 
qualification, which entitled her to the notice and admiration of 
a man who was obliged to earn his living by his daily toil. She 
was the daughter of a rich man, and would in all probability be 
the heiress of great wealth. It may be urged that Arthur Lyons 
was more than mortal, if he did not take this latter fact into 



A HUN ON THE BANK. 95 

consideration. Very well. Then he was more than mortal ; for 
with a perfect abnegation of self, and a total denial of personal 
interests, he would have made Agnes Westland his wife if she 
had not a penny. He loved her simply and purely for herself 
alone. 

But there were obstacles — and very serious ones — to the suc- 
cessful prosecution of his suit. Mr. Westland, trading under the 
name of Westland Brothers, had plenty of money, and an excellent 
commercial education. All he wanted was rank. He was married 
himself, had a wife alive, and could not hope in his own proper 
person for a noble alliance. If anything, his wife was a little 
b'elow him in social status. Where, then, was he to look, if not to 
his daughter P It was the pet and darling scheme of his life to 
aggrandize his family through the medium and by the help of his 
daughter ; and he had often said as much in his confidential 
moments to his managing clerk. 

To employ a high-flown metaphor, it was like plunging sharp- 
pointed Venetian daggers in Arthur Lyons' heart to talk to him 
in such a strain. It was a death-blow to his hopes ; and yet love — 
dear, irresistible, inextinguishable love — is so audacious, that the 
clerk, in spite of all difficulties and dangers, continued to pursue 
what he thought a just course, and lay legitimate siege to Agnes 
Westland's heart. 

She reciprocated his affection, and openly told him so with 
many a fond and loving look. Though she denied herself or him 
words, the language of the heart was expressively spoken by a 
fleeting glance or a half-drawn sigh. 

Mr. John Westland was so engrossed in business and so puffed 
up with pride, that he did not see what was going on under his 
very nose. In his pomposity the lovers found their safety. 

Mrs. Westland had an inkling of the real state of affairs ; but 
though she was so far observant, she did not assume the character 
of an angry or injured mother. She was too easy-going, in- 
different, and — shall I, in the exigencies of truth, say — too lazy to 
decidedly interest herself in anything but her personal comforts ? 
Any personal discomfort was avoided by her as if it had been a 
deadly pest. 

Arthur Lyons had a rival who unblushingly took the field 
against him. This rival was a man at the head of the bullion 
trade, named Coulson Masters. He was an old and experienced 
bullionist, and understood the exchanges of Europe as well as any 
trader in London. He had for many years banked with West- 
land Brothers. His was, as may be supposed, a very large bank- 
ing account, and one which conferred prestige upon the house. 
John Westland was extremely civil to him whenever he met him, 
and felt proud and honoured by his presence at his country-house 
at Norwood. 

Coulson Masters fell violently in love with Miss Westland, and 



86 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

one evening, when the wine was on the table, told hei* father so. 
John Westland was delighted to hear it; he congratulated himself 
upon the fact of his having obtained such a suitor, for it was well 
known that Ooulson Masters would be Lord Mayor in two years' 
time, and it was rumoured that a royal marriage would take place 
in the identical year of his mayoralty, which would inevitably re- 
sult in the honour of knighthood or a baronetage to him, as the 
chief magistrate of the City on the auspicious occasion. To hail 
his daughter as Lady Coulson Masters, at once became the acme 
of the banker's ambition, and he determined to further the pro- 
ject as much as lay in his power. But, like many other sagacious 
and far-seeing men who indulge chimeras in their speculative mo- 
ments, he reckoned without his host. He indulged in that charm- 
ing yet disappointing amusement of counting his chickens before 
they were in a sufficiently forward state of incubation to justify 
the exaggerated mathematical calculation. He built a shadowy 
and unsubstantial castle in the air, which his daughter was the 
first to throw a stone at. 

Agnes happened to be in the conservatory watering some flowers 
before breakfast the next morning, when her father sought her 
before going to the City. 

"Look at this cactus, papa," exclaimed the maiden; "is it not 
beautiful?" 

"Totally charming, my little Aurora," replied papa "Westland, 
" but not nearly so beautiful as my pearl beyond all price." 

" Oh, papa, what nonsense you talk ! I am sure nothing ani- 
mate, much less my poor self, can compare with the beauty of this 
rich and glorious flower." 

" Never mind, my dear. Come hither, I have something to say 
to you," exclaimed her father. 

She approached him smilingly, holding a sprig of fragrant 
mignonette in her hand. 

"Well, what is this weighty communication?" she asked. 

" I have found you what most young ladies do not despise." 

"What is that?" she queried again. 

" A s-weetheart, my dear, and one in every way suited to you," 
said Mr. John Westland. "A highly respectable man, my dear; 
a great merchant, who will some day be Lord Mayor, and receive 
the honour of knighthood, or perhaps a baronetage will be conferred, 
upon him. Think of that ; you will be Lady " 

He hesitated, debating in his mind whether it would be prudent 
at this early stage of the proceedings to divulge the name of his 
intended son-in-law. 

"Don't break off abruptly, papa," exclaimed Agnes ; "let me 
hear my future title." 

"It may be as well to tell you," he replied; "you must know it 
some day, so I will make no further reservation. The husband I 
propose for you is Mr. Coulson Masters, the celebrated bullionist." 



A RUN ON THE BANK. 97 

" Coulson Masters !" repeated Agnes, with what sounded very 
much like a derisive laugh ; " why, he is fifty, if he is a 
day!" 

" Well, my dear, what of that ?" said the banker, sternly — " what 
of that?" 

" Only this : I prefer some one a little about my own age ; and, 
papa " 

"What else?" 

" Suppose — I only say suppose " 

" Yes, yes," he cried, impatiently. 

" Suppose I have a sweetheart already?" 

" I sincerely hope and trust that such ia not the case ; in fact, it 
cannot be, or you must be a very bad, deceitful girl," answered 
Mr. Westland, frowning ominously. " I can scarcely believe it 
possible that you can have been so disobedient as to form an 
attachment for any man without informing me of the fact." 

" I throw myself on your clemency, papa," said Agnes, tremu- 
lously. " I have, indeed, given my heart away, but to one in whom 
you have always placed the greatest confidence. He is always 
with you, and if you did not wish him to make an impression upon 
me, you should not have thrown ns so much and so constantly 
together." 

" Of whom do you speak ?" asked John Westland. 

His brow was more lowering than it had been before. He had 
a great disinclination to play the part of a stern parent, but now 
or never was the time for him to do so. 

"I speak of Arthur Lyons, your confidential clerk, the man 
who " 

" Has abused my confidence most shamefully," vociferated the 
banker, becoming purple with rage he could not suppress ; " the 
viper whom I have warmed into strength and power to sting me. 
Low-bred, underhand scoundrel ! — to try and rob me of my 
daughter ! — was there ever such enormity known ? But he shall 
leave the bank — he shall go ! I will make him pay dearly for 
this. He marry my daughter! — not if I can prevent it, and I will 
do my best. By Heaven I will !" 

Agnes was alarmed. She had never seen her father so much 
agitated before. He positively trembled with nervous excitement. 
A great sorrow had come upon her all at once ; her dream of joy 
was turned into a miserable awakening. 

" If you object to Mr. Lyons, papa," she said, with some dignity, 
" I will promise you never to see him again. I have no wish to 
reward your kindness with ingratitude ; but if I do violence to my 
feelings in this way, you must have compassion upon me, for I 
declare most solemnly, that I will marry no one else. I will not 
so much as encourage your friend Mr. Masters by a word or a 
look. Since my intentions are frustrated by you, I shall resolve to 
live and die an old maid." 



98 TELEGRAPH SECEETS. 

" Listen to reason, my child," said her father, gratified by her 
partial submission. 

"It is useless to urge me further," she replied, with the tears 
rising up under her eyelashes. " I have arrived at an unalterable 
determination. Tell your friend Mr. Masters— or send him to 
me, so that he may hear it from my own lips — that I will never — 
never, under any circumstances whatever, become his wife." 

"Is this your resolution?" 

" It is !" she answered passionately. 

Mr. Westland went to town that morning in anything but an 
enviable state of mind. His unfortunate clerk was the first to fall 
under the stinging lash of his sharp resentment. On reaching his 
private room, he sent for Arthur Lyons, who entered the room 
with a smiling countenance, recking little of the storm which had 
been brewing all the morning, and which was soon to burst over 
his devoted head. 

" Good morning, sir," he said, blandly. 

" Take a seat. I wish to have a little serious conversation with 
you." 

" Certainly, sir," replied the clerk, seating himself at a respectful 
distance from his employer. 

" I have heard from my daughter, Lyons, that you have had the 
unaccountable impudence to make love to her, and this without my 
knowledge or permission. Nay, nay, don't attempt to deny it ; 
Agnes has confessed all. I have placed my veto upon the match, 
and Miss Westland has given me a sacred promise never to see you 
again. In order that she may not be tempted to break this pro- 
mise, I shall at once discharge you, and make you a present of a 
year's salary, which will take you comfortably to Australia, where 
I trust your career may be prosperous." 

Arthur Lyons listened to this harangue speechless with conster- 
nation. Never in the whole course of his life had he received 
such a shock and such a blow. For the time being it prostrated, 
it annihilated him. 

Crushed into the very dust, he hid his face in his hands. His 
manhood gave way, and the scalding, bitter tears of soul-deadening 
grief forced themselves in floods through his fingers. 

" Come, come, man !" exclaimed John Westland, a little con- 
temptuously; "do not give way like a woman. Ifc is useless for 
you to dream of staying in England. Go to an agent's at once, 
and make preparations for your departure in four-and-twenty 
hours. I have said all I have to say. I can spare you from the 
bank, and will myself superintend your department until I appoint 
your successor, which will be to-day or to-morrow." 

The big lump rising in Arthur Lyons' throat utterly precluded 
the possibility of his making any reply. He tried to speak once or 
twice, but the effort very nearly choked him. Turning his back to 
the banker, he wiped his eyes as well as he could, to remove the 



A RUN ON THE BANK. 99 

traces of his agitation, and went back to his own office. Ten 
minutes afterwards he put on his hat, and left the banking-house 
an altered man. 

He endeavoured that day to obtain an interview with Miss 
Westland; but she, with Spartan heriosm, in obedience to her 
promise made to her father, steadfastly, and with rather a curt 
message, refused to see him. 

This refusal, more eloquent than words, told Arthur Lyon that 
the banker had spoken the truth. By a magnificent effort he rose 
superior to himself, succeeded in smothering the flame of love 
which burned so fiercely in his breast, and deluded himself with 
the idea that it was completely extinguished, when in truth the 
embers were still smouldering, ready at any time to burst into a 
blaze, if fanned by an amorous wind. 

Within the four-and-twenty hours he left England for Mel- 
bourne. 

Agnes had not dreamt of such a step. 

On the evening of his departure, Mr. Coulson Masters was the 
welcome and the favoured guest at Mr. Westland's house. Agnes 
was distant and reserved, only replying politely in monosyllables 
when spoken to by Mr. Masters. Amongst other topics, business 
in the City was touched upon. 

" I see," exclaimed Coulson Masters, " that you have got rid of 
your managing clerk." 

"Why, yes ; he sailed for Australia this morning," replied John 
Westland, dryly, casting a side glance at his daughter. 

The effect of this answer upon Agnes was decided and unmis- 
cakeable. She stared wildly at her father for a moment; 
then uttering a faint shriek, she fell back in her chair in- 
sensible. 

Instantly all was in a state of commotion. Mr. Westland ran 
to his daughter's assistance. She was some time before she reco- 
vered, and then passed from one hysterical fit into another. 

They carried her, sobbing and crying, into her bedroom, whither 
Mrs. Westland retired, after making an apology ..for her absence to 
Mr. Masters, who was left alone with Mr. Westland. 

" I'll tell you what is, Westland," said Mr. Coulson Masters, 
with a decisive energy which was part and parcel of his character, 
"your girl don't care a brass farthing for me — don't deny it. I'm 
not blind, and can see as far through a brick wall as most people." 

" I think you are rather hasty in coming to a conclusion," said 
Westland, timidly, not to say meekly. 

" Not I. It's as plain as a pikestaff. I more than expect she 
was spooney on this clerk fellow of yours." 

" No, no ; I assure you." 

" Don't run the risk of perjury ; it's morally and legally wrong. 
Draw it a little milder, and listen to me. Your girl is dead-on to 
Arthur Lyons, and I can see isn't in the mood to marry me." 



100 TELEGRAPH SECKETS, 

"But Arthur Lyons is on his way to Melbourne," urged John 
Westland. 

" Granted ; but his image lives in her memory. Now, look here, 
John Westland, I want your daughter. It isn't because I can't 
get anyone else, for you know as well as others, that I have only 
to go to heaps of places, and pick and choose the flower of the 
flock." 

" Yes, that's true enough ; and I am sensible of the high 
honour you propose doing me and my family." 

" So you ought to be," replied Ooulson Masters, whose good 
breeding was to be found chiefly in his patronymic. 

The banker's blood began to boil at the calm, contemptuous 
manner of his visitor, but prudence constrained him to be silent, 
and he held his tongue. 

"Tell you what, Westland," continued Coulson Masters, once 
more employing his favourite phrase; "I've set my mind on 
making your daughter my wife." 

" I am proud to hear it." 

" So you said before. Well, you must so work it that she will 
have me. If not " 

"What then?" 

" Why, just this. It will be a case of stump and smash-up with 
you ; for so help me — everything — I'll ruin you, if the event does 
not come off." 

He ceased speaking, and looked inquiringly at the banker, who, 
plucking up a spirit, said — 

" It is all very well to talk in that grandiose strain, but I very 
much doubt your ability to ruin me. I know you are a smart 
fellow, and have that reputation in the City " 

"I should think I have, too !" exclaimed Coulson Masters, un- 
buttoning the last button of his waistcoat, either in conscious pride 
or because he had enjoyed a good dinner. " There are but few 
things, John Westland, that I can't tumble to ; and if I'm not slap- 
bang up to the mark, why, I'll never buy or sell an ounce of gold 
again !" 

Westland was disgusted with the man's vulgarity, but he still 
contrived to restrain his impatience. 

" You understand me, I hope ?" added the bullion merchant. 

" Perfectly," answered the banker. 

" How do we stand ?" 

" You want my daughter, and if she will not have you, you 
declare that you will ruin me. Ha ! ha ! a good joke. Bum me ! 
Ha ! ha ! an excellent witticism !" 

" Is it, though ?" replied Coulson Masters. " Don't indulge that 
idea ; if you do you'll find out your blooming error before you are 
six months older. What I have said I will do, I am able to do, and 
will carry oufrin spite of every obstacle. You go to your daughter — • 
devilish pretty girl she is, and no mistake ! — and tell her what I say. 



A HDN ON HIE fiAKK. 101 

I must have an answer in fourteen days; and if it isn't in the 
affirmative, why, you had better look out for squalls." 

" Really, Mr. Masters," said John Westland, flushing all over 
his face, till his ears burned like fire, " I don't understand thia 
treatment. I am unaccustomed to coercion, and I have a good 
mind to tell you " 

"Pish!" cried the bullionist; "that will do. We understand 
one another. Ring the bell, and let's have some coffee." 

Smothering his rage, Mr. Westland rang the bell ; but a few 
moments of reflection showed him that he was putting up with too 
much from his guest. How could he ruin him ? Pooh ! it was an 
idle threat, so he determined to give the rein to his resentment, 
and retaliate. When the servant entered, he exclaimed, quietly — 

" Order Mr. Masters' carriage." 

Coulson Masters jumped up in a rage, and looking from one to 
the other, said — 

" Do nothing of the sort, my good fellow." 

The man looked to his master, to see if he would cancel his 
instructions. 

" Obey your orders !" exclaimed John Westland. 

The servant left the room with an obsequious bow. 

"Soh!" said Coulson Masters, drawing his breath quickly; 
" soh ! my fine fellow, you have thrown down the gage of battle ? 
I accept it; I pick up your gauntlet. Do you hear me? But by 
G you shall repent it !" 

" Perhaps you will have the goodness to leave my house. I am 
not in the habit of being insulted in my own house," said Johr. 
Westland, 

" Your daughter " began Masters. 

" My daughter, sir, will have nothing to say to you. I would 
have endeavoured to persuade her to listen to your proposal ; but 
since the low, coarse, and vulgar treatment I have received at 
your hands to-night, I shall not attempt to influence her in the 
least. You may do your worst ; but mind one thing — I defy you." 

Smiling grimly, Coulson Masters left the room, and soon after- 
wards entering his carriage, drove away vowing vengeance in his 
heart. 

The next day Agnes was better, but very depressed. She went 
about her household duties with a weariness which did not escape 
the eye of her father, who stopped at home till the middle of the 
day, on purpose to speak to, console, and comfort her. 

" My dear child," he said, " do not look so miserable. It kills 
me to see you so languid and indifferent to everything. You are 
totally changed." 

"Is it my fault? am I to be blamed for possessing sensibility?" 
Bhe replied. 

" Not at all. I can, however, re-assure you to some extent. You 
shall not marry Coulson Masters." 



102 TELEGKAPII SECRETS. 

" That is no re-assurance. No power on earth would have com- 
pelled me to do so." 

"Agnes, Agnes! I am sorry to hear you speak in this strain. 
Your father's wishes should have some weight with you. Come, 
cheer tip. Tou are young, and have the world before you. You 
will soon recover your former spirits and be happy." 

" My life is blighted," she replied, sorrowfully. " The man I 
loved has left me ; I shall never see him again. I blame myself 
as the cause of his exile." 

" You are unjust to yourself, 'twas I " 

"Wo," exclaimed Agnes, firmly ; "you were the primary cause, 
but I administered the coup de grace to his hopes. He sought me 
before he sailed. In obedience to the promise I gave you, I 
refused to see him, never dreaming that he would so soon quit 
the country. Oh! I am miserable — most miserable." 

In vain John Westland endeavoured to comfort his conscience- 
stricken daughter, She was like Rachel grieving for her children, 
and refused to be comforted. 

Some days elapsed, and Coulson Masters made no sign. In 
turning his threats over in his mind, Westland laughed them to 
scorn, and thought himself too rich, well-known, and old-established, 
to be in any way injured by the bullionist. But he was mistaken. 

Masters was most inveterate in his hatreds ; he never left a man 
he disliked until he had brought him to starvation and the gutter. 
In the present instance, he had a double incentive to revenge. 
He hoped to humble the pride of the father, and by this means 
get the daughter's consent to marry him. "When Westland was 
without a penny, and the wolf was at the door, then he would have 
ten times greater chance of success than at present, when the 
banker was in a state of uninterrupted and unexampled prosperity. 

In a short time Masters began to give an unmistakeable proof 
of his hostility. He took a step which astonished his antagonist ; 
he aimed a blow at the banker through his business ; he withdrew 
his account. 

This may seem a trifling affair, but it was fraught with great 
consequences. Masters and Co. had banked with Westland Bro- 
thers ever since the commencement of the banking business, and 
their account had always been a very large one. 

The agents of Coulson Masters industriously spread the fact 
of the withdrawal through the City, and on the afternoon of the 
same day numbers of merchants and others crowded round Mas- 
ters, and asked him his reason for discontinuing his employment 
of the banker. Notably, Ebenezer Aaron and Co., represented by 
Solomon Aaron, the shrewdest man on the Stock Exchange, came 
to him, and said, "Ish it true that you have withdrawn your 
large amount of monish from Westland Brothers ?" 

" Perfectly true — every halfpenny," replied Masters, with a sig- 
nificant glance. 



A RUN ON THE BANK. 103 

" May I ask your reasonsh for such a proceeding?" 

"Well, I won't say anything. I don't wish to injure anybody, 
that's the truth ; I wouldn't do it." 

"Very strange! Have any billsh of his been returned?" asked 
the Jew, much perplexed. 

" Don't ask me ; I would rather not give my reasons ; they will 
be apparent enough soon." 

" Good day; I am much oblished to you," said Solomon Aaron, 
walking away. 

The succeeding day witnessed the withdrawal of Ebenezer 
Aaron and Co.'s deposit. The reign of terror then began. A 
perfect panic took possession of every depositor in the bank of 
Westland Brothers; they rushed pell-mell to Lombard Street, 
to get their money away before the quickly-expected suspension 
of the bank. 

John Westland trembled with apprehension ; he knew not what 
to do. There was a run upon the bank. In the whole course of 
his experience he never was in such a dilemma. At last, driven 
into a corner and unable to gain assistance from anyone, he was 
compelled to suspend payment, and the business of Westland 
Brothers was not worth a twopenny-piece. 

This was blow the first ; and Coulson Masters chuckled inwardly 
at the success of his vindictive scheme. Westland's estate was 
thrown into bankruptcy, and, contrary to general expectation, 
paid twenty shillings in the pound, leaving, after all claims were 
satisfied, a handsome balance in the banker's favour. This balance 
he invested in the purchase of a share in a large wholesale furrier's 
business; he became a beaver-cutt-er and fur-merchant, buying 
all sorts of skins, such as beaver, deer, musquash, etc., and was 
known as Westland, Purkiss, and Oo. 

Purkiss was a harmless sort of man — excellent in his business, 
stupid and objectionable out of it. He wanted capital to extend 
his trade, and for that reason he took Westland in. For six 
months the concern flourished, made money, and Westland began 
to hold up his head again. Although it was an unsavoury busi- 
ness, the ex-banker began to take a great interest in it, and worked 
hard at it. 

Coulson Masters had his eye upon him all this time. Westland 
fancied that his animosity was silenced — not a bit of it. He was 
only biding his time, so that the second blow might be moro 
crucially severe when it did come. The bullionist, having the 
absolute command of unlimited capital, began to make his pre- 
parations for his second coup. He was an anaconda skilfully 
throwing his coils round his victim preparatory to administering 
the death-crush. He took a great interest all at once in the beaver- 
cutting trade, and evidenced a desire for the possession of mus- 
quash skins. The head of an old-established firm dying, he bought 
the business at a tremendous price, and carried it on under the 



104 TELEGJiAPll SECKET3. 

old name, but in a much more extended manner. The anaconda, 
darting out its forked and deadly tongue, and rearing its hideous 
and venomous head in the air, prepared to tighten its suffocating, 
strangling coils. 

Colliton and Foote — or more properly speaking, Coulson Mas- 
ters — sent word to their foreign agents to buy up every description 
of skin, so as to make the market as tight as possible. All the 
warehouses in America were brimful of furs, so were those in 
London. 

Purkiss and Westland were at their wits' end ; they could not 
get sufficient of the raw material for their hands to manufacture. 
Their stock was exhausted ; they could not supply their customers. 
The anaconda was making itself felt. 

When the pressure was at its height, and stagnation in the trade 
was threatened, Coulson Masters sent a hundred thousand pounds' 
worth of stock to a sale, ordering it to be sold in other names but 
his own. He attended the sale for the supposed purpose of buy- 
ing. So did Purkiss and "Westland. 

" There he is !" said Westland. " Perhaps he thinks he is going 
to have the whole sale to himself." 

"Ha! ha! perhaps he does," answered Purkiss, with a grin. 

" But we'll show him he's mistaken, eh?" 

" To be sure we will ; wait a bit." 

" How far can we afford to go ?" asked Westland. 

" We'll buy the lot, sir ; he shan't have a skin." 

" That's right," said Westland, highly delighted, and rubbing 
his hands. "Stick to that; he shouldn't have a hair of a skin, 
if I had my way." 

"Never fear," returned Purkiss, holding a catalogue in one 
hand and a pencil in the other, and preparing to bid as the auc- 
tioneer entei'ed his pulpit. 

Coulson Masters had three paid agents in the room, whose faces 
were unknown to anyone, and this was the use he made of them : 
he wanted them to bid, not wishing it to be known that every bid 
came from himself. Two stood before him with their backs to 
him ; he had one foot close to the right heel of each of them, and 
when he wanted them to bid he slightly kicked them. The third 
man was behind him. Under his arm Masters carried an um- 
brella, and when he wanted the third man to bid, he gave him an 
accidental job with his umbrella. This complication of ingenious 
contrivances was what he called " tactics." 

The goods were put up at a high price, and Masters and bis 
accomplices ran them up to three times their value; but such 
were the exigencies of Purkiss and Westland's trade, and so ar- 
dent their desire to be revenged on Masters, that they eagerly 
bought at this exaggerated figure. At the end of the sale they 
had spent every halfpenny of their ready money, but they had 
bought the whole stock. Every bale of goods had been knocked 



A RUN ON THE BANK. 105 

down to Purkiss and Co. at an extravagant price. Masters had 
bought nothing. 

" We've beaten him !" said Westland, joyfully, to his partner. 

" Yes, but the price was stiffish," replied Purkiss, with a wry face. 

"Never mind that ; we've got the market in our own hands." 

" Yes, there's something in that." 

Deluded men ! They little dreamt that they had been buying 
their antagonist's goods at treble their actual value. They hadn't 
an inkling that Coulson Masters' warehouses were glutted with 
stock; but they knew it the next day, for Masters flooded the 
market, and they were nowhere. They found themselves burdened 
with an immense amount of stock, which they could only sell at 
an alarming sacrifice. In exactly thirty-one days, which was the 
extent of the succeeding calendar month, Purkiss and Westland 
figured conspicuously in the Gazette. This, for Westland, was 
bankruptcy number two, and all brought about by the unrelenting 
vindictiveness of Coulson Masters. 

Masters met his old friend in the street a short time afterwards, 
and said, with mock commiseration, " Sorry to see your name in 
the Gazette. Going to pay in full?" 

" You know as well as anyone," answered John Westland, indig- 
nantly, "that we cannot pay more than half-a-crown." 

" Ah ! you should not have bought so extensively on a late 
occasion, which is still fresh in my memory. Thought you'd got 
the pull of me then, eh ?" 

" You have been too much for me — I own it," said the ex-banker, 
with a sigh. 

"Confession is good for the soul. By the way, how is your 
charming daughter?" 

" In rather a delicate state of health. My misfortunes have not 
conduced either to her serenity or my wife's." 

" Is the fair Agnes as obdurate as ever ?" 

"You had better visit us, and see," replied John Westland. 

"Do I understand that you give me permission to renew my 
addresses P" 

" Yes, that is a fair construction to put upon what I said." 

" Where is your place now ? I forget the name of your house 
in the country. Are you still there?" queried Coulson Masters. 

" I regret to say, my calamities have necessitated a sale of all my 
effects. We are now living in poorly-furnished lodgings in the 
Old Kent Eoad." 

" Indeed ! Well, I will turn the matter over in my mind. You 
must remember, Westland, that your daughter is not now the de- 
sirable match she once was. A young lady in ill-health, with an 
unfortunate and poverty-stricken parent " 

" Sir ! this language " began Westland, hoarse with rage. 

"There, there — don't lose your temper. It is only the truth, 
though I know the truth is generally unpalatable." 



106 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

They parted, and the merchant went home to his dismal lodg- 
ings and his equally dismal family. 

Now, the Old Kent Eoad is not a particularly lively thorough- 
fare in which to be domiciled ; the chief thing that can be said in 
its favour is, that it leads to Greenwich, and from the Elephant 
and Castle; whitebait can be seen floating in a dim vision of 
waiters, champagne, and a bill as long as the Nelson monument. 

At the time that Mr. Westland brought his storm-tossed do- 
mestic bark to an anchor in the Old Kent Eoad, not far from that 
ancient ecclesiastical edifice, the Marlborough Chapel, whose odour 
of sanctity is untainted by aught sectarian, the Metropolitan Board 
of Works, in pursuance of its main-drainage scheme, was kindly 
constructing a sewer; piles of bricks, restless steam-engines, un- 
cultivated navigators — (why does not the legislature give the 
" uns," that is to say, the unenlightened, unruly, unwashed, un- 
kempt, unthankful — the vocabulary is long, but our space short — 
any number of votes ?) — a blocked-up road, barricades of timber, 
mounds of clay, added considerably to the JBabylonion desolation 
of the scene. 

Dinner was not the sumptuous banquet now that it had once 
been with John Westland. The simple steak or the humble chop 
took the place of the venison and the turkeys of former days, a 
few fresh herrings represented the salmon and the turbot, and 
half a Dutch cheese served for the Parmesan and Stilton. 

John Westland walked home from the City over London Bridge 
and through the teeming Borough, and sat down to his homely 
meal in melancholy silence. 

" Have you seen any old friends to-day, papa ?" inquired Agnes, 
who was wan and wasted. 

" No ; but I have seen an old enemy," he replied, bitterly. 

" Indeed ? Who may he be ?" 

" Coulson Masters," was the laconic answer. 

The mention of this name recalled Agnes's sad past, and she 
thought of Arthur Lyons, of whom she had heard nothing since 
his departure from England for Australia. 

" What does he say for himself?" asked Mrs. Westland, curiously. 

" He wants permission to pay his addresses to Agnes again. I 
believe, if she consented to marry him, he would settle something 
handsome upon her, and start me in business again." 

" Do you think so ?" 

" I am convinced that his hostility was purely and solely dic- 
tated by my curt dismissal of him that night after dinner, when 
Aggy fainted on hearing that Arthur Lyons had left the country. 
Faugh ! how I detest the name of that scorpion ! I look upon 
Lyons as the fountain and origin of all our evils." 

" If you wish me to make the sacrifice, and if Mr. Masters again 
honours me with his proposals," said Agnes, " I will accept him ; 
but I warn you, my dear father, that it will kill me." 



A RUN ON THE BANK. 107 

" Kill you !" 

" Yes ; but that docs not matter very much," she added, with a 
reckless laugh. " I feel that I am dying now — dying daily — dying 
by inches, and each hour that passes but drives another nail into 
my coffin." 

"Agnes ! Agnes !" said her mother, reprovingly, "you must not 
talk in this wild, dreadful way." 

"All I know is," exclaimed Mr. Westland, "that your accept- 
ance of Coulson Masters would enable me to begin again, and end 
my days in peace, respectability, and quietness ; but if, as you say, 
it would kill you, God forbid that I should say one word that 
would urge you on to such a consummation." 

"What you have already said, dear father," answered Agnes, 
"has determined me." 

"To do what?" 

" To accept Mr. Masters." 

"My darling child!" cried John "Westland, rising from his 
chair, and flinging his arms round her neck in a transport of 

At the same time his eyes fell upon her pale face, which wore an 
expression of such unutterable anguish, that his heart smote him ; 
yes, smote him with a heavy blow like that of a smith's hammer 
wielded by brawny arms, and ringing upon the cast-iron anvil. 

" It is my duty to save you !" she added. 

And so she sacrificed herself at the shrine of duty. 

They decked her with garlands, as if she had been a lamb going 
to the slaughter on some festive occasion. Coulson Masters had 
not taken the trouble to make love in the orthodox manner ; 
Westland's assurance that the girl would be his wife was quite 
sufficient for him. The day appointed for the marriage was 
ushered in by a cold, wet morning ; the rain descended in torrents ; 
but I was at my post, and at half-past eleven despatched the 
following; message, which I had received from Southampton, to 
the Old Kent Eoad :— 

" Dearest, ever-dearest Agnes ! — I landed in England but yester- 
day, and was horrified to see your approaching marriage announced 
in a local print. I have always cherished you most tenderly in my 
memory, and now that I have returned with more wealth than I 
in my most sanguine moments hoped to possess, I venture to offer 
you my hand and heart, hoping that in your altered circumstances 
— of which I have been fully informed — your father will look 
favourably upon my offer. I have sufficient confidence in your 
lasting love and affection to feel convinced that you will not reject 
me. Break off this marriage, and expect me in town in a few 
hours. Yours ever — Arthur Lyons." 

When this message — which I am constrained to admit was con- 
siderably delayed in its transit — reached the Old Kent Road, the 
wedding cortege had left for the church at which the celebration 



108 TELEGKAPII SECRETS. 

was to take place. But the servant, who wished nothing better 

than to be present at the ceremony, took upon herself to hurry to 

the church with the message in her hand- 
She arrived in time. In vain the beadle warned her back ; 

fruitless were the efforts of the pew-openers to retard her progress. 

She made her way to Agnes, and placed the telegram in her 

hands, as she was advancing to the altar. 
The signature arrested her attention, and she hastily glanced 

over the paper. Terrible was her emotion ; she tottered, and sank 

into a seat. Her father caught the fluttering sheet, as, relinquished 

by her trembling hand, it fell to the ground. 

" Oh, father !" she murmured, " have some pity — some compas- 



sion 



Arthur Lyons rich, was a very different person from Arthur 
Lyons poor ! 

John Westland was shaken in his determination. Turning to 
Coulson Masters, he said — • 

" Sir, permit me to inform you that this marriage is broken off." 

The bullion dealer gnashed his teeth with rage. 

" What do you mean, sir?" he cried. 

" Precisely what I have had the honour of saying." 

"It is a breach of contract." 

" Not at all. It is simply a breach of promise. You had better 
bring an action against me — that is your only remedy. The public 
like amusement, pray gratify them, and you may get damages !" 

" This conduct is atrocious." 

" No, it is not." 

" I say it is." 

" Shall I tell you what it is ?" asked John Westland, with a 
peculiar intonation. 

" If you like." 

The banker approached him closer, and hissed in his ear — 

" It is my revenge, Coulson Masters. You have had your turn ; 
it is now mine, and this is my revenge ! " 

•& %' $fe •»■ w 

There was rejoicing that night in the Old Kent Eoad. What 
mattered it if the lodgings were poor and the furniture shabby ? 
Arthur Lyons had come back to his first and his true love ! Agnes 
was respited. She would yet live to bless the old age of her 
father and mother. 

The life-spark was not to be crushed out of her by a hated and 
unnatural marriage ; for it is against nature to unite people who 
are totally unsuited to one another, 

After the marriage, Arthur Lyons and John Westland re-esta- 
blished the old banking business. They were partners now ; but 
they still traded under the dear old name of Westland Brothers, 
and if honesty and love could make them akin, they were so. 

Coulson Masters smiled grimly, but his sting was drawn ; and 



A MYSTIC MESSAGE, 109 

when the story of his passion and wicked persecution became 
known, the laugh went against him, and he could no more injure 
the freshly- erected firm of Westland Brothers, than he could fly, or 
scale the steep sides of lofty Mount Olympus. 



IX.— A MYSTIC MESSAGE. 



On arriving at the office one morning in the month of August, I 
found the wires rather slack and the messages rather more dry 
and uninteresting than usual. They were chiefly commercial, 
and related to the price of goods, such as tallow, sugar, wheat, 
barley, malt and oats, with an occasional advice respecting small 
porkers and large hogs, and an occasional reference to choice 
lambs, plain wethers, and ewes with wool. If the wires were 
agitated in the neighbourhood of Newcastle, the chances were we 
should have news of Buddie's West Hartley, Braddyl's Hetton, 
Wall's End, South Kelloe, and other descriptions of coal. 

It was rather a relief when the following telegram was handed 
to me by one of the young ladies, who had just copied it from the 
dial. 

Taking the fluttering sheet in my hand, I was curious enough 
to read it before despatching it to its destination. 

This was the message : — " From Charles Metcalfe, Solicitor, 
City, to Ernest Baby, Bolton Row. — Dear Charles, — Look at the 
'agony column' in the ' Times' this morning. I can't help think- 
ing that the paragraph addressed to Baby must be meant for you. 
If so, follow it up, for you may be able to throw some light upon 
the mysterious fate of ***** *. Yours ever — C. M." 

"There is something odd about that," I exclaimed to myself; 
and turning to my book, I carefully transcribed it, wishing that I 
could hit upon a solution of the mystery. 

Having accomplished this not very arduous task, I gave the 
"gram" as we call it in the slang of the trade, to a messenger, and 
despatched it to its destination. 

As I returned to my room, a boy arrived with the " Times," 
which I always took the liberty of glancing over before sending 
up to the secretary's room, to which apartment it more property 
appertained. 

I could only imagine that the "agony column" referred to in 
the message was the second eolumii in the " Times" advertisement 



110 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

sheet, — that famous column, in which so many mysterious and 
enigmatical advertisements appear. 

Full of expectation, I turned to it, and the very first thing my eye 
lighted on was an appeal to " Baby," couched in these words : — 

" If Eaby will fly on the wings of the wind to the Children of 
the Moon, he will, in the hidden depths over which Diana alone 
has power, discover the grand secret of his existence." 

That was all ; nothing more, not even an initial, appeared to help 
the neopthyte in the mysteries of advertising to discover the 
meaning of this strange and fantastic appeal. 

A Bedlamite would have raved about "wings of the wind," 
"children of the moon," "hidden depths," " secrets of existence," 
and so on, that is to say, if the aforesaid inhabitant of Bethlehem 
Hospital was gifted with a romantic imagination. 

While I was wondering what all this could mean, the manager 
of the Company came in, looking as fresh as arose, for he had just 
come up from Brighton. 

" Good morning, Mortimer," he exclaimed. 

" Same to you, sir," I replied. 

" You are not looking up to the mark," he continued ; " I am 
afraid you work too hard — stick too closely to business, eh?" 

"I try to do my duty, sir." 

" I know you do. How would you like to go into the country ? 
This is holiday-time, and I think I may safely say that the Com- 
pany can spare you for a fortnight." 

This notification was so completely and totally unexpected by 
me, that it took me altogether by surprise. I had not reckoned 
upon such generosity, but the Company was paying a splendid 
dividend. The manager had had his salary increased, and was 
consequently well-disposed to his fellow-men in general, and my- 
self in particular. 

Wheti thinking about a holiday, I had not anticipated the 
grant of more relaxation than the permission to absent myself 
from Friday to Tuesday. I had even gone so far as to apportion 
that time in the following manner : — A visit to a rich old aunt, 
who lived in the congenial locality of Limehouse, and kept a 
marine store-shop, and was not altogether above the old iron and 
rag-and-bone trade ; and then a trip by steamer to Calais or Bou- 
logne, and a brief stay in one of those places, so dear to the 
Englishman emancipated from the thraldom of the desk or the 
counting-house. 

" Well, Mortimer, what do you say?" k exclaimed our manager. 
" Don't go to sleep over it." 

This speech roused me from unseasonable indulgence in a very 
pleasant reverie. 

" I beg your pardon, sir," I replied, " but you very nearly took 
my breath away. I shall be only too glad to accept the fortnight's 
holiday you offer me." 



A MYSTIC MESSAGE. Ill 

" Go at once, then." 

"At once, sir?" 

" Yes. Put on your hat — start this minute. I will see that the 
work in your department is properly attended to." 

Seeing that he really meant it, and not liking to neglect a chance 
like that which was offered me, I took him at his word, put on my 
hat, thanked him once more for his liberality, and was going away, 
when he stopped me, saying, " Wait half a minute, Mortimer ; I 
had forgotten the most important thing." 

" What's that, sir?" I ventured to inquire. 

" Why, the sinews of war. Stay here, and I will send a cheque 
down to you. The ' Land-and-Water-Flash-of- Lightning Company' 
can afford to be generous to an old and conscientious servant, so 
if you find a small bonus, such as a ten-pound note, tacked on to 
your salary, you need not send it back." 

Smiling benignantly, the manager walked up the lead-bound 
stairs, and disappeared in the managerial department, leaving me 
pleasurably occupied in speculating upon a happy holiday, which 
continued hard work made me stand much in need of. 

In a few minutes a clerk descended the stairs, and handed me 
the promised cheque, which was for a munificent amount. I first 
went to the bank and got it cashed ; then I strolled leisurely up 
to the West End, enjoying that delightful feeling which one can- 
not help entertaining on finding oneself unexpectedly one's own 
master. 

I was not at all sorry to turn my back on the " Land-and-Water- 
Flash-of- Lightning Company's " offices in the City. There was 
something refreshing in mingling with those aristocratic streams 
of the West-End thoroughfares. After buying myself a pair of 
gloves and a new hat, I found myself in a quiet but highly-respect- 
able street, with which I had not been previously acquainted. 

Peeling slightly fatigued, I looked around for a public-house ; 
but it appeared to me that the street in question was much too 
genteel to tolerate a tavern, for I could not see anything at all 
resembling one. I stopped, and reflected on the advisability of 
retracing my steps, when I saw a female standing on the threshold 
of a doorway ; she was attired in a plain cotton dress, and had the 
unmistakeable appearance of a domestic. 

" Can you tell me what street this is ?" 

" Bolton Bow," she replied. 

" Indeed !" I continued, remembering the name, and being at 
once animated with my old curiosity. 

" Is there anything wonderful in that?" she asked. 

" Nothing much, my dear ; but can you tell me where Mr. Eaby 
lives ?" 

"Mr. Eaby!" she repeated; "this is his house. Do you want 
to see him?" 

I found that I had got myself into a dilemma, and was delibe- 



112 



TKLEGBAPII SECRETS. 



rating as to the reply I should make, when the abigail kindly 
relieved me from my embarrassment by adding, " I suppose you 
are the new ' vally ' he is waiting for ? Oh, my ! won't you catch 
it for being so much behind time !" 

_ I must confess I was not nattered by being taken for a valet ; I 
did not think there was much of the pampered menial about me. 
But the spirit of adventure, which had always been more or less 
rampant in my breast, was aroused, and the rash idea of repre- 
senting myself as the expected servant took possession of me. 
Perhaps I should by so doing solve the mystery of the telegram 
and the advertisement ; it would be an exciting, if not an agree- 
able way of spending my holiday. 

I was not in the least afraid of being prosecuted for getting into 
Mr. Eaby's service under false pretences, because I knew that my 
position in the City, and the high opinion my employers had of 
me, coupled with the fact that I was engaged in the compilation of 
a book, and wished to gather materials for it in a legitimate or 
illegitimate way, would at once put a stop to any prosecution of a 
criminal nature. 

Looking earnestly at the maid-servant, I said, in a tone of 
deprecation, " I don't expect there'll be much row, if you go and 
tell master that I couldn't find the street." 

" I shan't tell master nothing," she answered, with a toss of her 
head; " you'll have to do all that yourself." 

" You are too pretty to be hard-hearted, I'm sure," I said. 

" Whatever I may be, it won't do for me to be standing here," 
she replied. 

" Just run inside, then, there's a dear, and tell the governo>* 
I've arrived, will you ?" 

" Well, as you're so polite " 

" You don't know me yet." 

" I'll go and do what you ask. Come inside, and wait in the 
nail." 

I entered, and the door closed behind me. With all my courage 
and carelessness, I could not help feeling a little nervous, and ex- 
periencing some anxiety to see my new master. 

In a few minutes a tall, handsome gentleman, of about five-and- 
chirty years of age, came into the hall, and exclaimed — 

" Oh ! you are the man, I presume, that Mr. Stone has sent me. 
He tells me you are quite a novice, but that you are active, intel- 
ligent, and honest." 

" I hope you may find me so, sir," I said, diffidently. 

" I sincerely hope so too, because, if I find you worthy of it, I 
shall place great confidence in you." 

" That you may safely do, sir." 

" I suppose," continued Mr. Raby, "that you are aware that you 
have put me to considerable inconvenience by being so lono- in 
making your appearance here ?" ° 



A MYSTIC MESSAGE. 113 

"I must beg pardon, sir, but if you will allow me to explain " 

" Certainly." 

" I lost the train tbat sbould bave brought me to town, and 
being new to this locality, I could not find the street for some 
time." 

" Very well — say no more. Have you brought your trunk with 
you?" 

" No, sir, it will not come till to-morrow morning," I replied. 

" That is unfortunate," he said, evidently slightly annoyed. 
" You must manage the best way you can. I have received a tele- 
gram this morning, which necessitates my immediate departure 
from town; you, of course, will have to accompany me. Go I 
must, this afternoon ; so you had better leave instructions for your 
traps to be forwarded to Eoyston, in Somersetshire, for^ which 
place we leave London this afternoon." 

" Yery well, sir," I replied ; " I have travelled a little before 
now, and can make shift without much difficulty." 

" Go down stairs; have your dinner, and hold yourself in readi- 
ness to start at any moment I may want you." 

I made a low bow, and Mr. Eaby retired and left me by myself. 
I then sought the lower regions, where I was hospitably received 
by the other servants, who hailed me as an acquisition to their 
small party. 

Prom their conversation I gleaned the following facts respect- 
ing Mr. Eaby. He was rich, but somewhat eccentric. His elder 
brother, Mark Eaby, possessed vast estates in Somersetshire, in 
which county his principal seat was known as Eoyston Castle. 

In that neighbourhood Ernest Eaby's early days had been 
passed. After leaving college, he had resided for some time under 
his brother's roof, during which time he conceived an overwhelm- 
ing passion for a lady living in the vicinity, named Adele Millman. 
Adele reciprocated his passion with all the fervour of an intensely 
amorous nature ; but, to the surprise of everyone, she suddenly 
disappeared, and was supposed to have left the country. 

Ever since her mysterious disappearance Ernest Eaby had been 
inconsolable. He was not the same man. All his efforts to dis- 
cover the slightest trace of his adored one were unsuccessful; and 
he subsided into a state of hopeless despondency, which was far 
from being allied to resignation. 

Scarcely had I succeeded in gaining these particulars, when Mr. 
Eaby's bell rang, and I had to go up-stairs. 

The house was handsomely furnished, and with great taste ; but 
everything in the apartments occupied by my master was placed 
in its position without the least methodical arrangement or at- 
tempt at uniformity. Mr. Eaby was most untidy, and all his time 
seemed to be occupied by mental anxieties, which would allow him 
to think of nothing but his lost Adele and his absorbing sorrow. 

I assisted Mr. Eaby to put his things together and arrange his 
5 



114 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

wardrobe for travelling. A cab took us to the railway- station. 
Putting some money into my band, be said — 

" Pay the cab, Mortimer, — didn't you say your name was Mor- 
timer?" 

" Yes, sir." 

" Ah ! I thought my memory was good enough not to deceive 
me in so small a particular. Pay the cab, and having done so, 
take a couple of railway-tickets to Royston." 

" One first and one second, sir?" I asked. 

He looked at me from head to foot for a time, and then replied, 
" As you are not in livery, and as I want to know a little more 
of you, take two first-class tickets, — we will travel together." - 

Touching my hat, I satisfied the demands of the cab-driver, saw 
the luggage placed on a truck and labelled for Royston, and then 
purchased a couple of first-class tickets for that town. 

I found my master on the platform, turning over the leaves of 
some cheap volumes on a book-stall. He held in his hand a bundle 
of papers, which he handed to me, as soon as he perceived that 
I had executed the commissions with which he had entrusted 
me. 

"Look out for a coupe," he said. "Place these inside, to show 
that the seats are engaged, and stand outside till I come. Give 
the guard as much as you like, but I must have a coupe to smoke 
in." 

Money will do anything with a railway-guard, and by the judi- 
cious expenditure of a shilling I obtained what 1 wanted. 

In a short time the train — an express — started. Mr. Raby was 
gloomy and preoccupied. He lighted a cigar, and glanced over 
the pages of an illustrated periodical, which he afterwards gave to 
me, according me permission to smoke if I felt so inclined ; but as 
it was a habit in which I very seldom indulged, I refused, not 
wishing to be too familiar in his presence. 

In half-an-hour's time he grew tired of reading, and laying 
down his journal, exclaimed — 

" The gentleman who recommended you, Mortimer, told me that 
you were highly trustworthy, therefore I shall not hesitate to 
place confidence in you. Most likely before the end of the week 
events of importance will take place." 

Here he broke off abruptly. 

I waited a little while to see if he would resume his remai'ks, 
but finding he did not seem at all inclined to do so, with a view of 
stimulating his forgetfulness or his reticence, I said — 

"You may rely upon my secrecy, sir, at all times." 

"Eh ! what is that?" he cried, starting up. 

I repeated my remark. 

" Oh ! it is you, Mortimer," he said, in a gentler tone. " I was 
indulging in a day-dream, and forgot all about you. Where are 
we now P" 



A MYSTIC MESSAGE. 115 

" I really don't know, sir." 

" Not know !" he exclaimed, in a tone of irritation. " Don't 
talk such nonsense. Where is your ' Bradshaw' ?" 

I quickly found it amongst the rugs and books. 

" Here, sir," I answered. 

"Very well. You know what the time was when we left 
London ; look at your watch, see the time now, then turn to the 
railway-guide, and see at or near what place we ought to be now." 

Having made the calculation, I said, " Reading, sir." 

"Reading. Very well. Why couldn't you have done all that 
tt ithout giving me the trouble of teaching you ? You must be a 
little more independent — indeed you must; I can't bear being 
worried." 

During the rest of the journey, he did not condescend to open 
his lips to me. I was not at all sorry to be left to myself, for a 
tyrannical master was something new to me, and I was not as yet 
thoroughly broken to harness. 

I could picture to myself the astonishment of the real Simon 
Pure, on arriving at Mr. Raby's in Bolton Row, and being treated 
like an impostor. Although the idea was excessively amusing to 
me, the fact was likely to be anything but agreeable to him. 

The country through which the train darted, so as to realize 
the poetical figure of " flying on the wings of the wind," was 
picturesque and pretty in the extreme. 

I had never seen Somersetshire, and consequently hoped to 
spend my holiday as pleasantly there as anywhere else, in spite of 
the voluntary servitude to which I had for the time being con- 
demned myself. On arriving at Royston, the shades of evening 
were falling, and it was nearly dark when a crazy, old-fashioned 
fly took us to a third-rate inn called the " Fish at Sea." 

" I do not wish to be known down here," Mr. Raby explained to 
me, " and for that reason I avoid the Royston Arms and those 
places where I should be known immediately ; and so that recogni- 
tion may be difficult, if not impossible, I shall call myself Smirk ; 
do you understand ?" 

"Perfectly, sir." 

The " Pish at Sea" was not one of those hostelries which recom- 
mend themselves externally to the eye of the weary traveller 
requiring refreshment for man, if not for beast. Prom the dilapi- 
dated condition of the Pish, it was fair to infer that it was a long 
time since it had been at sea, and that an immersion in a solution 
of whitewash, in the absence of a saline bath, would do it no great 
harm. 

But the interior was comfortable and clean — two distinguishing 
qualities not to be despised. A dinner, which was so simple in 
its nature as not to try the resources of the establishment very 
highly, was ordered. During the meal, I waited upon Mr, Raby, 
afterwards getting my own dinner below stairs, where I made 



116 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

acquaintance with the Boots, a gentleman of the Sam Weller 
description, who was jovial, with a dry humour. 

Said the Boots, blandly, as if bribed by and in the interests of 
the landlord — 

"Come to stop long, you and the guv'norP" 

"Not knowing, can't say," I replied, with my mouth full of 
curried rabbit. 

" Ah ! Nice part this. Touring it, I stippose ?" 

" Shouldn't be surprised, though it may be business." 

" Don't seem in the guv'nor's confidence," said Boots. 

" Not very deep." 

" Seems a closish sort of a chap." 

" Does he P" 

Seeing that though the pump was good the sucker was dry, my 
friend Boots desisted for a time from pumping, and turned the 
conversation into other and ordinaiy channels. 

" It's about time I shut up shop, and looked to the horses and 
poultry. There's such a sight of gipsies about just now." 

" They are dangerous customers," I remarked. 

" That's true ; but they spend a sight of money at times, when 
they're in luck." 

"Have you suffered much from their depredations P" 

" No, I can't say that I have," Boots replied. " But that's not 
because they haven't tried it on. Well, I'm going to shut up. 
Will you come ?" 

" I don't mind if I do for a minute or two. I left master with 
his bottle of claret, and he didn't look like wanting me for an hour 
at least." 

Boots lighted a lantern, and led the way into the stable-yard. He 
watered the horses, made their beds, and locked the stable-door, 
after which he went to the hen-house, in which the fowls were at 
roost. 

A peculiar noise made by hens when frightened in the dai'k 
struck on Boots' ear, who, wise in his generation, guessed at the 
cause, and exclaimed between his teeth — 

,' There's one of those darned gips at work — bless my eyes if 
there ain't ! Come on, mate, and it's odds against him." 

Following my friend closely, I assisted him materially in grasp- 
ing a dark form, which like a shadow endeavoured to glide out of 
the yard. The dark form turned out to be a stalwart gipsy, who 
had three brace of dead fowls in his possession, and would have 
escaped scot-free if we had been a minute later. 

"I've got you, have IP" cried Boots, holding him by the nape 
of the neck, and pushing him along in triumph ; " I'll teach you to 
steal fowls, my tulip, at the ' Pish at Sea !' Come on." 

Our arrival at the bar of the inn with our prisoner created no 
little sensation. Boots was fully occupied with his prisoner. I 
carried the spoil which we had so opportunely recovered. 



A MYSTIC MESSAGE. 117 

"What's this? — what's all this, William?" exclaimed the land- 
lord, who was a short, pompous little man. 

" I've caught one o' them gips, sir — just come out of the roost, 
and here he is." 

The gipsy begged hard to be allowed to go, but the landlord was 
inexorable, and would make no terms with him. 

The noise of the altercation penetrated to the room in which 
Mr. Baby was closeted, and he came to the scene of action, 
desirous of finding out what the matter might be. 

I observed that he started when he saw the gipsy, and I also 
noticed that the face of the latter, which was before clouded, 
cleared as a mysterious sign passed between them. 

"What has this man done, landlord?" inquired Mr. Baby, 

"What has he done, sir ? Why, broken into my hen-roost, and 
stolen six of my best fowls ! But he shall learn that he mustn't do 
such things with impunity. I'll make an example of him, and if 
he doesn't get six months on the ' Stepper,' it will astonish me as 
much as it will him !" 

" What do you suppose is the amount of the damage he has 
inflicted upon you?" asked Mr. Eaby, quietly. 

" Six fowls at 3s. 6d. — how much is that, William ? Just a 
guinea, ain't it?" 

" Yes, sir, that's the figure." 

" But you have the fowls," said the gipsy, " and you can sell 
them." 

" Never mind !" exclaimed Mr. Baby. " Take this guinea, land- 
lord, keep your fowls, and let the fellow go." 

"Let him go, sir?" said the landlord, hesitatingly. 

"Yes ; he won't offend again." 

The landlord took up the guinea which Mr. Baby had laid upon 
the counter, looked at it, tested it, scratched his head, and came to 
a final conclusion — 

" You may go," he said. " I sacrifice a principle in yielding to 
this gentleman's request; but, as it is your first offence, you 
may go." 

The fact was, the calculating and shrewd publican saw that ho 
should get more by being merciful than by indulging in severity, 
however well-merited it might be, so inclined to clemency. 

" Let me speak to the fellow," said Mr. Baby, " and I'll take care 
that this sort of outrage does not occur again." 

They walked out together, the gentleman and the gipsy. I 
followed, and stood at the entrance porch. They walked up and 
down together in front of the door, and as they passed me, I 
caught fragmentary pieces of their conversation. 

" Where are the tents pitched ?" inquired Mr. Eaby. 

" About a mile south of the abbey. You know it well," replied 
the gipsy ; " we used to call it Dead Man's Hollow !" 

" Is Diana expecting me ?" 



118 TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 

" She speaks of no one else." 

"And her health?" 

"Is very bad. It is thought that she cannot live long." 

" I suppose she sent the advertisement to London that appeared 
m the ' Times ' this morning ?" 

" That I don't know. Francisco left the encampment two days 
ago, after being three hours in Diana's tent." 

" That is enough," replied Mr. Baby ; " say not a word more. I 
will be at the camp to-night ere midnight strikes." 

This was all that I could hear, but it was quite sufficient to 
stimulate my curiosity afresh. 

It was about half-past ten when Mr. Raby sent for me. I found 
him with his hat on ready to go out ; the weather was too warm 
for a great-coat. 

" I am going out, and wish you to accompany me," he said. 

" Very well, sir ; I will be ready in an instant." 

"Meet me at the porch. Bring some brandy with you in a 
flask, and a supply of cigars." 

I had only to put on my hat, and my arrangements were soon 
made. Mr. Raby was standing in the porch with his arms folded, 
looking like the demonic creation of some weird German poet. 

" Walk by my side," he said ; " we will be equals for once — why 
should we not be? I may want your help; can I rely upon you?" 

" As far as my life goes, sir," I replied. 

" I believe you," was his laconic comment on what I had said. 

After going a little way, he took my arm. I felt for him, be- 
cause I thought of Adele, and the wonderful story of her sudden 
disappearance occupied my mind. I could fancy the misery that 
he suffered at that time, and of which he had been the prey ever 
since. Grief was stamped upon his expressive but pallid counte- 
nance. 

He seemed perfectly acquainted with the road we were travel- 
ling. The stars shone in the heavens ; it was a charming night — 
such a night, in fact, as only lovely August can produce ; a cres- 
cent moon adorned the sky, and irradiated the earth with its 
gleams of silver. 

After walking about two miles, we arrived in sight of a magni- 
ficent castle. It stood out boldly in the moonlight ; its towers and 
battlements were distinctly visible. 

" Look !" cried Mr. Baby, "that is my ancestral home — there 
my brother Mark lives." 

" Are you unfriendly, sir ?" I asked. 

" Unfriendly ! — no ; he loves me as I love him ; but this neigh- 
bourhood is so full of hateful recollections, that I cannot live in it." 

" Do you speak of Adele, sir ?" 

"Adele! — how came you to hear that name? Speak!" he 
shouted, releasing my arm from his grasp, and confronting me 
with flashing eyes. 



A MYSTIC MESSAGE. 119 



" From your domestics at- 



' Oh, yes — I understand ; I suppose you have heard the story, 
as well as the rest of them." 

Turning abruptly to the left, we skirted some woodland, and 
after a brisk walk, reached a gipsy encampment. 

" Keep close to me," said Mr, Baby. 

I did so. In a few moments the gipsy who was released from 
custody by Mr. Eaby's intercession came up to us, and asked him 
to follow. 

" Are you afraid of violence, sir ?" I asked in a low tone, in- 
audible to the gipsy, and only just so to the person to whom it was 
addressed. 

" Oh dear, no," he replied, with a smile ; " this is not my first 
appearance amongst the Children of the Moon, by a great many." 

He called them the " Children of the Moon :" that was an addi- 
tional link in the chain which was to render intelligible the myste- 
rious advertisement in the paper. 

It gradually became clear to me that a gipsy named Diana was 
desirous of imparting a secret to Mr. Eaby which he would give 
the world to know, — perhaps it related to his long-lost Adele ! 

My heart pulsed more quickly as this idea occurred to me. I 
was becoming terribly excited; the fresh country air and the 
novelty of all that I had during the day come in contact with, 
raised my spirits, and I anxiously awaited the sequel. 

We were conducted to a tent, which was made in the shape of a 
segment of a circle. It was placed under a tree, whose leafy 
branches afforded it protection from the falling dew. 

The gipsies living in the encampment were all asleep ; they rose 
with the lark, and having nothing to do in the evening (except 
stealing), generally retired to rest early. 

Diana, the queen of the tribe, was reclining on a bed of moss 
and fern-leaves. Our conductor pulled aside the coarse canvas 
covering which shut out the cold air from the entrance, and an> 
nounced Mr, Eaby. 

The gipsy was on her feet in a moment ; but, from the way in 
which she tottered, it was very evident that she was far from 
strong or well. 

" You have come !" she exclaimed, addressing Mr. Eaby; " you 
have come, in obedience to my published request ; and thank your 
God that you have come in time!" 

"What do you mean, Diana?" inquired Mr. Eaby. 

" You shall hear, when Belshazzar and the man with you have 
retired." 

Belshazzar went away, but I lingered. 

" Why stays he ?" asked the gipsy. 

" Because he is my friend, and it is my pleasure that he should 
stay." 

" Have your way," she answered petulantly, " have your way; I 



120 



TELEGEAHI SECRETS. 



don't know that it makes much difference to me. Come nearer, 
Ernest Eaby — I want ye nearer to me." 

He approached., and stood by her side. She leant her arm upon 
his shoulder. By the faint light which prevailed, I was enabled 
to observe her form and features minutely. She was about Mr. 
Eaby's age, but frightfully emaciated; she appeared to have suf- 
fered even more acutely than he had. At one time she must have 
been supereminently good-looking. 

The embers of a dying fire flickered now and then into a fitful 
glare without the tent, adding to the weird and mystic aspect of the 
scene, which was heightened by the " witching hour of night." 

" Ernest," said the gipsy, " it is many years since you first 
taught me to love you." 

" It would have been better had we never met/' said Mr. Eaby, 
bitterly. 

" True — very true ; but the past cannot be recalled. You de- 
serted me because a new sun arose on your horizon; but she 
vanished almost as soon as she arose." 

" That I know. If you did not mean to tell me something new, 
why did you bring me here?" 

" You shall hear something new. I like to see your agony of 
impatience," replied Diana, finding pleasure in a cruel joy. " I am 
like a cat with a mouse, but I differ from the cat in one respect." 

"And that is " 

" I do not mean finally to annihilate you. I am brought to 
death's door by my sufferings, and finding that I cannot live long, 
I have determined to be magnanimous, in the hope of making my 
peace with Heaven. You remember Adele ?" 

" Do you want to madden me?" cried Mr. Eaby, becoming fear- 
fully excited. 

" I have wished to madden you, Ernest Eaby ; I have wished to 
see you lying dead at my feet, but that feeling has now passed 
away. I want to make reparation and atonement. The workings 
of the human heart are mysterious, and little intelligible to those 
whose lives have been uneventful." 

"Tell me of Adele," sighed Mr. Eaby. 

" I will. Having commenced my work of atonement, it does not 
become me to falter half-way." 

"Is — is she dead?" 

Diana looked pityingly upon him. 

" That is all I ask. Tell me— tell me !" 

" She lives !" cried Diana, after a pause. 

Mr. Eaby, distracted with emotion and hardly master of himself 
fell upon his knees, and kissing the gipsy's hand, beseeched her to 
tell him more. 

" This— all this is for a rival ! Oh ! only the fear and th P 
approach of death could induce me to make so gr ea t a sacrific I" 
said Diana, in a low tone. ce • 



A MYSTIC MESSAGE. 121 

_ Again Mr. Baby conjured her to proceed with her communica< 
tion. 

"It is many years ago since I loved you," said she, "but I 
can remember well how you left me for Adele Millman ; my only 
consolation for that agonizing reflection is that I have enjoyed 
just as many years of revenge." 

"Bevenge!" he echoed, in a stony voice. 

" Yes — revenge ! Adele is alive, but she has languished in a 
dungeon ever since you dared to love her." 

"Adele! — a dungeon! Oh, my God!" ejaculated Mr. Eaby, 
springing to his feet, and looking wildly around him. 

" And I alone can liberate her. If I were to die to-night, the 
secret would die with me, and Adele would never see the light of 
day again, but would perish miserably." 

This declaration proved to Mr. Eaby how completely he was in 
the power of the terrible woman before him. If she chose to carry 
her secret to the grave with her, he would have no chance what- 
ever of recovering his much-loved Adele. He was prostrated with 
fear and expectation. 

At length Diana rose in her might, and said, " Come, come with 
me ; you shall in an hour's time clasp Adele in your arms. I shall 
not witness your meeting, for I shall die before the sun rises." 

"Die!" 

" Yes. I have a prophetic soul within me, and I know that I 
shall never see another daybreak." 

She led the way out of the tent, but scarcely had she reached 
the open space in front than she fell down upon the bruised grass. 
Blood streamed from her lips, and she gasped painfully for breath. 

" Help ! help !" I shouted. 

Belshazzar was by our side immediately. My cries aroused the 
tribe, who flocked in numbers round us, fantastically attired, and 
bent curious regards upon us. 

Mr. Eaby sank upon his knees beside the dying gipsy. He 
placed his ear to her mouth, and drank in her last words with the 
utmost eagerness. 

This was what she said : — 

" In my pocket you will find a key ; take it, and go to the old 
chapel in the South Close. The key will open a door in the wall 
which is covered with ivy ; that door leads into a subterranean 
passage, which conducts to a chain of vaults only known to myself 
and the shades of those who once owned Eoyston Castle." 

Here she found it so difficult to breathe, that her words were 
scarcely audible. 

" Go on — go on ! For Heaven's sake, do not stop now i" ex- 
claimed Mr. Eaby, glueing his ear to her lips. 

" In vault — find — Adele !" murmured Diana, whose spirit was 
fast flitting to another sphere. 

" She dies ! she dies !" cried Belshazzar. 



122 



TELEGRAPH SECRETS. 



The gipsy's head fell back, her eyes closed, and in another mo- 
ment she was a corpse. . , 

Mr. Raby beckoned Belshazzar to him, and related the ippsy s 
dying words, begging him to find the key of which she had 
spoken. He searched, and found it. 

A consultation then ensued between Mr. Eaby, Belshazzar, and 
myself, while the body was taken into the tent by the relatives of 
the deceased. It was decided that we should start directly for the 
old chapel, in order to test the truth of the gipsy's words and 
liberate Adele, if it should prove that she was confined in the 
noisome vaults of which Diana had in her last moments spoke. 

Provided with lanterns, and armed with bludgeons to keep 
away the rats and other vermin we expected to meet with, we 
started. It was but a short walk from the camp, and after some 
search amongst the ivy, we found a stone door, which the key 
belonging to Diana opened. 

Mr. Baby, holding a lantern on high, led the way, followed by 
myself and Belshazzar; he was a stranger to superstition, and 
knew no fear. A flight of sixteen steps led us to a passage, 
which we traversed. We discovered a number of cells, corre- 
sponding to the number of steps, so that these dismal dungeons 
could, in the days of priestcraft and baronial intolerance, have 
contained at least sixteen victims. 

"Adele! Adele!" 

It was Ernest Raby's voice which rang out shrilly as a clarion. 

There was a faint responsive cry in the immediate vicinity. In 
another moment a door was dashed backward, and a man held a 
woman in his clasped embrace. 

Strangely wild and savage was her appearance. She had been 
for long, long years deprived of the benefits of civilization. Her 
hair was tangled and hanging down her back ; her — but we will 
not dilate on her prolonged misery and her acccumulated sufferings. 

Suffice it to say, that she was conveyed to the outer air, and 
that she forgot the wretched past in the deliciously happy future. 

The wicked designs of a jealous and slighted woman triumphed 
for a time, but it pleased Providence in the end to confound them. 

Mr. Raby married Adele, who had been carried off and shut up 
in those dismal vaults by Diana's malice, and who could hardly 
believe in the transition from misery to joy 

I had little difficulty in making my peace with Mr. Raby for tho 
deception I had practised upon him, and was able afterwards to 
congratulate myself upon having added another Teleoranh Secret 
to my already numerous list. Q ^ 



THE END. 



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